Staying Healthy During the Cold & Flu Season – Whole Foods As Preventative Medicine

art-0114-loca2It can be challenging to stay healthy during the long winter months. For some, illness begins at the start of the school year and can carry on through the holidays and deep into winter.

If your family is like most, you are very busy and find little time to prepare nutritious meals at home. Convenience foods can become a staple at the dinner table, and while these foods may fill hungry bellies, they are not filling nutritional requirements that keep the immune system running optimally. As a result, the body becomes a perfect host for illness.

It’s not difficult to keep your family healthy through this season. Proper nutrition is one of the most important factors. Mother Nature is brilliant, growing foods specific for every season. Winter is no exception, especially in California.

Fall and winter vegetables and fruits contain powerful antioxidants and a variety of flavonoids that keep the immune system strong. If you are unsure about what’s in season, check your local farmers market or ask your local grocery store produce manager.

Sandra Burkett is market manager of Red Bluff’s Frontier Village Farmers Market and a board member of Slow Food Shasta Cascade, the market’s fiscal sponsor. She shares that the market operates year-round on Saturdays, with winter hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Slow Food’s motto is ‘good, clean and fair food,’” Sandra says. “Featuring a farmers market is part of our mission to provide access to food that is good for the farmer, the community and the earth.”

Another great way to get fresh seasonal produce is to have it delivered to your door through a local CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Churn Creek Meadow Organic Farm in Redding, owned by Mary and Albert Occasion, is a small family farm that strives to maintain a high standard of hand-picked organic produce that can be delivered fresh to your door.

Lana Kitchel, of Kitchel Family Organics, a 10-acre farm in Los Molinos (28 miles north of Chico and 12 miles south of Red Bluff), says they sell most of their organic produce to Country
Organics in Redding, which has a local marketplace as well as a large CSA program. “We also sell to natural food stores in Red Bluff and Chico, and occasionally right from our farm,” she adds.

Here are ways to enhance your health this season:

Immune system super foods are great additions to any dish and provide your meal with a boost to keep your family’s immune systems healthy. These include: onions, garlic, Chinese mushrooms and miso.

Use culinary herbs and spices: cayenne, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary promote circulation; turmeric, ginger and rosemary are anti-inflammatory; thyme and garlic are antibacterial;  oregano, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, parsley and mint are antioxidants; and rosemary helps stimulate an immune response.

Probiotics can decrease severity and duration of colds and flu – 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract, where probiotics are utilized. Look for a refrigerated, quality probiotic at your local health food store.

Washing hands frequently cannot be stressed enough. It’s simple and makes a big difference in staying healthy.

Reduce stress with moderate exercise, yoga and meditation.

Supplements, herbs and over-the-counter medications can help relieve cold and flu symptoms, but your best medicine is seasonal foods. Homemade chicken soup is not only delicious, it’s a great cold and flu remedy that nourishes the whole body. If you don’t have the energy to make chicken soup, try miso soup (recipe below) for a quick immune booster. Find miso paste at your local health food store.

art-0114-loca1Miso Soup with Sea Vegetables


  • 3 T miso paste
  • 1 box organic chicken or vegetable broth, or 32 oz. homemade stock
  • ¼ cup green onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup dried kombu or dulse (sea vegetables), crumbled

Heat stock in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add miso and whisk until smooth. Add green onions, garlic & sea vegetables. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add lemon. Miso soup separates; stir frequently

(do not boil). Makes 6 cups.

Michelle Cave
About Michelle Cave

Michelle Cave is a certified Nutrition Consultant & Nutrition Educator and has been practicing for over 13 years. She studied Holistic Nutrition at Bauman College, in Berkeley, CA and is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. Find out more:


  1. Great article! I sent it out to our employees!

  2. Well done Michelle

  3. Excellent article! I can’t wait to try the recipe…thank you!!!

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