Farrah Minnich is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Wellness Coach, who owns Food First Nutritional Therapy, and a Wilton parent. We asked her to share some advice about getting prepared for winter and how to best try to stay healthy.

While fall brought the thrill of pumpkins, apples and joyous holidays ahead, it also brought the chill of viruses, infections and the miserable cold and flu season we dread!

We often rely on flu shots, antibiotics and OTC medications to prevent and treat the threats of the season, but there are many natural, effective ways to build immunity through simple diet and lifestyle changes.

We may know it’s important to eat healthy, but knowing why is the key to actually doing it! While vitamin C and zinc are well known immunity boosters, other minerals and vitamins A, B, D, E, and K2 also play targeted roles in fighting infection, in addition to healthy fats and protein.

Quite simply, the immune system functions by identifying bacteria, mounting an attack to destroy it, and then, remarkably, educates itself to respond to the threat more quickly the next time we encounter it (by building antibodies). In order to do all of this amazing work, the immune system relies on a wide range of nutrients that come directly from the foods we eat. This is why a high quality, nutrient dense diet is always your first line of defense against colds and flu.

There are also several other diet and lifestyle factors that impact how well the immune system functions, super foods that enhance the body’s ability to fight infection, and powerful supplements to boost immunity.

Diet and Lifestyle

  • Hydration keeps air passages moist, drains toxins, reduces histamine activity that can activate asthma and allergies, regulates body temperature, and empowers the healing process
  • Sleep allows the body to heal and detoxify, essential for immunity
  • Gut health is key to building immunity since 80% of the immune system lives in the gut
  • Vitamins, especially A, B, C, D, E, K2 each play key roles in strengthening immunity in different ways
  • Natural sunlight exposure helps the body to boost vitamin D supply
  • Minerals, especially zinc, calcium, iodine, copper, and balanced sodium/potassium help fight bacteria and viruses, increase white blood cell activity, and impact cell health
  • Good digestion allows the body to absorb essential nutrients in food – vitamins, minerals, protein (a building block for antibodies), and fats that keep cells strong and healthy; good digestion also helps pathogens to be destroyed in the stomach before they can enter the bloodstream
  • Reduce sugar intake which weakens the immune system by burdening the body (it is a stressor), reduces white blood cell activity and produces cortisol which shuts immunity off
  • Manage stress which also weakens the immune system by burdening the body and producing a cortisol response

Super foods

  • Water is the most important nutrient your body needs to stay healthy!
  • Fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and C, so eat across the rainbow
  • Garlic and onion provide anti-bacterial and anti-viral allicin
  • Ginger and chili peppers provide preventative capsaicin
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds protect cell membranes, are anti-oxidant, and boost B and T cell function (cells that fight infection)
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso soup increase good gut bacteria
  • Bone broth, rich in minerals and gelatin, helps fight germs and comfort and soothe the body
  • Egg yolks supply both zinc and Vitamin A which work as a pair to boost immunity
  • Fiber helps protect good gut bacteria


  • Fermented cod liver oil–I know, I know, but it is a real powerhouse of anti-inflammatory fats and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2
  • Probiotics – boosts gut bacteria where 80% of the immune system lives
  • Colloidal silver – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal works to strengthen immunity to prevent cold and flu and lessen its severity during sickness
  • Elderberry syrup – contains compounds that help both prevent sickness and speed recovery time
  • Vitamin C and zinc – also work to boost immunity to prevent sickness and speed recovery time
  • Astragalus – an herb that works to reduce cortisol and fight disease

Along with a nutrient dense diet, eliminating processed sugars and carbohydrates, a few simple lifestyle changes, and some powerful supplements, you can effectively avoid unnecessary medications, sick days and costly doctors’ office visits.

While it may take more than just an apple a day to keep the doctor away, it really can be done naturally, keeping you and your family healthy and happy in the coming months.