Why is fall known as cold and flu season? We at The Wellness Way call it “too much sugar, too much stress, and not enough vitamin D season.” The cold and flu bugs aren’t worse in the fall and winter months. It’s your immune system that’s weaker. Don’t fall into the common traps this time of year. Instead, support your immune system with these tips to stay healthy for fall.
1) Say “No” to the Shot
Pharmaceutical companies are starting their push to sell their flu shots, and you’ll hear a lot of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine this time of year. The flu shots are not very effective, and in 2018-2019, the overall vaccine effectiveness was around 29 percent.  What’s worse is they can actually weaken your immune system and contribute to allergies. Check out our 5 Research-Based Reasons for Avoiding the Flu Shot if you still need more convincing.
2) Get Your Vitamin D
Once it starts to get chilly, you might want to retreat inside, but it’s time to get outside to make sure you are soaking up some of that critical nutrient, vitamin D. Your body actually makes this vital hormone that regulates 1000 genes. It does a lot for your body! Vitamin D has been shown to impact the body’s production of cytokines and lymphocytes, which are your body’s fighter cells.  In fact, having low vitamin D levels has been shown to result in more upper respiratory tract infections.  It’s tough to get all the vitamin D your body needs from food alone, and your body can only make vitamin D if it’s getting enough sun. Get outside every day and consider taking a quality vitamin D supplement.
3) Enjoy Farmers’ Markets
Fall is harvest season, and it’s a great time to visit your local farmers’ market. Get out and enjoy the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season this year. They have the nutrients and antioxidants to keep you healthy during cold and flu season. When you buy fruits and vegetables locally, they are also more nutritious because they don’t travel as far to get to you. It will make it easier to get those 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Remember to eat more vegetables than fruits! Use what’s available at your farmers’ market to inspire your cooking. Try this butternut squash soup or this cabbage soup.
4) Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods can wreak havoc on your microbiome, and an unhealthy gut can keep you from absorbing all the nutrients from your healthy foods. Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and processed foods that can contribute to chronic inflammation and gut problems. If you still need to get your food allergies tested, please be sure to add that to your to-do list! Foods that are healthy for some people can cause inflammation in those allergic to them.
5) Upgrade Your Sugary Sweets and Drinks
Giving up inflammatory foods like sugar can sound daunting. Don’t let it bring you down! In our Fab Fall article, we have lots of tips for avoiding unhealthy sugar and ways to upgrade some of your seasonal favorites. You won’t even realize you’re eating healthy! Try this pumpkin chip bread recipe, our pumpkin spice latte, or this apple cider recipe. Giving up processed sugar will be difficult to sustain if you don’t find ways to treat yourself. Remember being healthy is about lifestyle and should make your life better. It won’t feel that way if you are just cutting sweets out.
6) Stay Active with an Exercise Routine
When the weather changes and life gets busy, it might be easy to fall off your exercise routine. Or you might just swap your outdoor activities for more screen time. Don’t let that happen! Staying active will keep you healthy. Have a plan to switch up your exercise routine for fall and keep it fun. Make extra time for hikes in the woods to see the fall colors change.
7) Boost Your Immune System with Mushrooms
Mushrooms aren’t just food. Medicinal mushrooms have great immune-supporting qualities that can help your body fight off colds and the flu. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of our understanding of medicinal mushrooms’ potential. One of the recently identified components that make medicinal mushrooms effective is their health-promoting and immunomodulating polysaccharides like beta-glucans. These are complex sugars found in the cell walls of mushrooms that immensely support our immune response. 
8) Put Regular Chiropractic Appointments on Your Schedule
Did you know that regular chiropractic adjustments can make your immune system twice as effective?  A chiropractic adjustment will remove stresses to the nervous system, stimulate the nervous system, and increase your immune response. Make regular chiropractic adjustments part of your healthy routine.
9) Lower Your Stress to Fight the Flu
This time of year gets very busy with back to school and then the holidays coming up fast. Not to mention the regular day-to-day stress that comes with our modern lifestyles! If your body is fighting stress, it can’t fight off the bugs that are going around this time of year. Take time for yourself and find ways to keep your stress to a minimum. We have you covered if you need help finding ways to reduce stress.
Stay Healthy and Skip the Flu Season
It’s easy to get caught up in the fall season and forget to take care of ourselves. Remove stressors and support your body by following these easy tips. If you do find yourself coming down with something, check out our tips for getting better fast. We don’t want the cold or flu to slow you down. There are pumpkin patches to visit and fall colors to enjoy. Don’t miss out on the fun!
Originally posted September 8, 2019. Updated October 27, 2023.
- Poor late-season protection limited flu vaccine impact for 2018-19 | CIDRAP (umn.edu)
- Aging adults and seasonal influenza: does the vitamin d status (h)arm the body? – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey | Asthma | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
- Beta-glucans from edible and medicinal mushrooms: Characteristics, physicochemical and biological activities – ScienceDirect
- How Chiropractic Care Boosts Your Immunity – Chiropractic Care Today