The leaves are still falling and winter hasn’t shown its full wrath yet, but doctor’s bills are expensive and not everyone has the luxury of a medical aid to cover all the costs that illnesses bring.

Try these nine cheap and natural ways to keep your immune system in check and avoid a nasty flu and forking out cash you could rather be spending on a warm winter coat.

1. Go outside

Autumn is a great time to get back to nature. The weather is temperate, the trees put on a show of note, and it won’t cost you a cent. Aside from the great outdoors being a natural mood booster, exposing yourself to vitamin D also strengthens your immune system and reduces the risk of respiratory infections. There’s lots to do outside: why not embark on a budget-friendly outdoor adventure in your province, or just have a simple picnic somewhere?

2. Go for greens

We all take solace in comfort food when the cold hits, but upping your intake of greens and fruits has been shown to improve the body’s antibody response to certain diseases. Try to stick to seasonal fruits and vegetables to keep it lighter on your pocket, or try one of these 3-ingredient smoothies first thing in the morning.

3. Stop smoking

Aside from being a very expensive habit, smoking raises your risk of respiratory diseases and weakens your immune defences. You’ll save money and your lungs and body will thank you.

4. Get fit

It’ll get you outside, you’ll be healthier and you’ll be working on your beach body. Gym costs might not fit into your budget, but one of these free workout apps will. Keep your machine well-oiled and ready to nip any bugs in the bud.

5. Get enough rest

In her book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, says that we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. We know that lack of a proper night’s rest has far-reaching health effects on the body, and that it breaks down its defences to disease and illness. Take advantage of the sun setting sooner: meditate, still your mind and settle into bed early.

6. Make like Popeye and eat your spinach

One of the nutrients that health experts claim to help during the flu season is zinc. Zinc helps to stop viruses from gaining full access to our cells. Spinach and pumpkin seeds are great natural sources of zinc.

7. Get your dose of natural Omega-3 fats

This is the holy grail of flu fighting remedies. You can get your dose of natural Omega-3 fats by eating seafood, walnuts and flaxseed oil.

8. Gobble down a pepper for a runny nose

This one is only for those with a tolerance for something hot. If you already have a stuffy nose, try taking a bite from a hot pepper. Chilli peppers contain capsaicin which will help with that stuffy nose.

9. Steam

Steam is cheap and can help you with your cold. If you don’t have a humidifier, then simply run a hot shower, close the bathroom door and let the room fill up with hot steam. You don’t want to waste too much water, but this can help to alleviate some of your symptoms. You can also add some fresh ginger to a bowl of hot water, put a towel over your head and inhale the steam.

About The Author

Angie Gallagher

Angie Gallagher is a freelance writer in the Upper Karoo. Aside from writing content for Counting Coins, Angie has tried her hand at a few juvenile attempts at poetry filled with storms and stress, and a marginally successful radio station, Radio Grootoor, recorded on cassette tapes when she was ten.

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