If you can prevent bugs and viruses from taking hold, you will be much better off this winter. Here are some tips on how to keep those nasty illnesses at bay this year.

1. Eat a healthy diet. This basic advice is rarely mentioned with regard to illness prevention, but it is essential. Be sure to keep your intake of Vitamin C as a healthy level and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly seasonal ones.

If possible, eat berries like cherries and blueberries. Frozen ones are fine if you can not get fresh or if fresh ones are too expensive.

2. Get lots of “good bugs” into your system to combat the “bad bugs.” Eat plenty of probiotic foods such as yogurt, miso, and natural sauerkraut. It’s also not a bad idea to take probiotic supplements through the winter too.

3. Be sure to get plenty of rest. It’s easier said than done, but if you prioritize your rest it will be easier to get the sleep you need. A well-rested body is a healthy one that can fight off illness.

4. Raw, unfiltered honey is a delicious way to prevent upper respiratory infections. Eat a big spoonful each morning and night to keep your immune system healthy.

5. Drink herbal teas made from herbs that have immune-boosting properties. Lemon balm is an effective anti-viral tea, and all of the mints are to a lesser degree.

6. Echinacea is the cold and flu prevention herb of choice, but take care not to drink echinacea teas or take supplements all winter – it loses its effectiveness after a couple of weeks. Take echinacea for a week or so to prevent the onset of illness after you have been exposed or think you have been exposed to germs.

7. Garlic is a wonderful antibiotic and anti-viral herb. Mince a clove of it and simmer it in 2 cups of chicken broth. Add as much cayenne pepper as you can tolerate (another cold and flu fighter) and drink a cup or two a day.

8. Wash your hands, even if you think you don’t need to. It is especially important that you wash your hands before eating. We don’t always think about it, but our hands come into contact with some pretty germy stuff on a regular basis.

9. Homeopathic medicines can do an excellent job of stimulating the immune system and preventing illness. Check with your local health food store for the most recent homeopathic flu prevention.

10. Take a good multivitamin that is high in zinc and vitamin D3. This vitamin and mineral are important in staving off colds and flu.