Boosting your body’s natural defenses can keep colds and flu away. That’s good news for those who don’t want to shell out a lot of money for over-the-counter medicines when chilly temperatures usher in the season of sickness. And building up your defenses doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your busy day. Just a few minor changes in your routine today can prevent sniffles and sneezes tomorrow.

Add these strategies to your arsenal of weapons. You don’t have to get sick this winter.


Steer Clear of Pain Pills. If your aches are minor and your pains are fleeting, give your body’s natural protective agents a chance to do their job destroying invading germs. Those as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in your medicine cabinet suppress compounds, such as white blood cells, that should be attacking those nasty bugs. Try to do without the aspirin and ibuprofen unless you really, really need them.

Wear Socks. Want to leave your body vulnerable to viruses? Wear flip flops from now until February. Your feet will stay cold, and your brain will keep getting the message to conserve your body’s heat. Your brain will answer the call and decrease the flow of blood to areas that lose warmth quickly. Reducing blood flow means reducing white blood cells. The result: decreased infection fighting and increased vulnerability.

Drink Black Tea. Sipping 20 oz. of black tea every day gives you a good dose of naturally potent antioxidants, and letting tea steep for a few minutes while you brew delivers even more antioxidants. Studies suggest that tea drinkers produce three times more interferons than those who don’t brew the beverage. Interferons are punched-up proteins that annihilate disease-causing viruses.

Gargle With Salt. Gargling a rinse that contains salt, which is a natural antiseptic, can get rid of invading germs. Bacteria and viruses that we breathe into our bodies can stick to mucus membrane in the back of the throat, but a salt rinse can flush out that phlegm. Studies say you can cut your risk of viral infection by as much as 34 percent.

Weave in a Workout. A daily workout can cut your chance of catching a cold in half. As little as 15 minutes here and there during the day can make the difference. Your body produces compounds that fight germs, and exercise helps your body produce more of those antibodies. Serotonin, dopamine and human growth hormone will all fight invaders more aggressively if you exercise.

Chill Out With TV. A calming break of 30 minutes each day reduces stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones slow down white blood cells and reduce their ability to kill invading viruses. Your immune system can go back to fighting invaders when adrenalin and cortisol chill. Research says a 30-minute break daily cuts your risk of illness up to 80 percent.

Read more: How To Not Get Sick