Home cook Nicole McLaughlin shares her favorite home remedies for feeling better and staying healthy through cold and flu season. Most of these can be made with what's already in your kitchen.


None of these home remedies should take the place of professional advice from a doctor or dietician.

What NOT to Eat

First off, here's what Nicole says to avoid if you want to feel better and stay healthy.

1. No Processed Foods

Processed foods can be full of sugar, and sugar feeds inflammation. So, ditch the cookies and chips and eat fresh foods instead.

2. Don't Do Dairy

If you're experiencing a lot of congestion, cutting out dairy could help relieve symptoms. Nicole suggests turning to plant-based products such as almond milk instead.

3. Avoid Alcohol

Consuming alcohol can increase inflammation. Now, this may fly in the face of home remedies that call for sipping bourbon and honey to soothe a sore throat, but we won't judge.

4. Stay Away From Spicy Foods

While spicy food could open up those blocked nasal passages, they might upset a tender tummy at the same time.

Eat This Instead

Now let's talk about the foods that you can eat.

5. Chicken Soup

A spoonful of soup held up over a bowlful of chicken, noodles, and chopped carrot in roasted chicken broth
Credit: KGora

It's the first thing Mom's going to make if you tell her you're sick. And she's not wrong: Chicken soup delivers protein and vegetables for nutrition, plus warmth for comfort and liquid for hydration.

If you don't have the time or inclination to make chicken soup from scratch, Here are two ways to make shortcut chicken soup:

  • Start with a canned soup. Sauté minced carrot and garlic in a little butter or oil and add it to the canned soup. You can stir in fresh parsley for freshness and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
  • Start with a carton of good quality chicken bone broth and add in orzo pasta or rice and your own combination of vegetables and chicken.

6. Be a B.R.A.T.

Nicole's talking about the B.R.A.T. Diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are easy to digest and they have a mild flavor, so they're very tummy-friendly.

7. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of liquids that are low in sugar and caffeine, such as plain water, and caffeine-free herbal tea.

8. Zinc

You can take it as a supplement or get it in your diet by eating foods like legumes and red meat.

Home Remedies

Honey, garlic, and ginger are immunity-boosters you can easily keep on hand to whip up these easy DIY remedies.

fresh ginger, sliced lemon, and honey tea in a glass mug
Credit: Burcu Atalay Tankut/Getty Images

9. Ginger Wellness Shot

First off, we're talking about the kind of shot you can drink. You can buy them premade for $$$ or you can make your own at home. Here's Nicole's homemade version:


  • 3 peeled lemons
  • ⅓ cup peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • Enough water to help it blend
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper


Blend until smooth. Pour through a sieve to remove any remaining chunks and fibers. Store in the fridge. To drink, dilute a shot with equal parts water to taste.

10. Sleep

When you're starting to feel sick and run down, one of the best ways to repair yourself is get some rest.

11. Cowboy Kent's Natural Remedy

This famous YouTuber claims his 3- ingredient home remedy is good for ailments from sore throats to sinus infections. You can eat a teaspoon of it or spread it on a cracker a couple times a day.


  • 1 garlic clove crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 small piece jalapeno pepper crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon raw local honey


Stir together to make a paste. Eat a teaspoonful or spread it on a cracker and eat a couple times a day.

12. Aromatherapy

  • Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add citrus peel, a handful of herbs such as mint and rosemary, and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the water cool slightly so that it's still steamy but not so hot that you can't comfortably do the next step.
  • Tent a towel over your head so you can breathe in the fragrant steam.

13. DIY Starbucks Medicine Ball

You can easily recreate this coffee-shop remedy to relieve sore throats and congestion. Simply brew a cup of hot peppermint tea, add a squeeze of lemon, and stir in honey to taste. Sip and sigh with contentment.

Follow Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and Instagram @nicolemcmom.