Sniffles and Fevers and Coughs, Oh My!

Ah, October! The scents of apple and pumpkin are wafting from our candles, we are pulling out our favorite sweaters and sweatshirts, and our tried-and-true soup and chili recipes are back on the weekly menu. Fall is bursting with all the good feelings; however, we can’t forget about the pesky side of October that inevitably affects us all – cold and flu season. Terri Boardmann, Clinical Services Manager at ViaroCare and nurse for over 29 years, spoke with Heidi Kutz with the ViaroThrive team to discuss simple strategies to boost our immune system this season.

Heidi: Terri, some of us may not have great memories of high school biology class. Could you remind us of what our immune system is and what it does?

Terri: The body’s immune system is our best defense against germs and bacteria. The number one goal of germs and viruses is to survive. They are sneaky little buggers that try to get around our immune system and break it down. Think of a medieval castle that has a big heavy wall with a large moat around it to protect everyone inside. Our immune system is similar. It is the defense system of our bodies. The immune system is set up so that it doesn’t wait until the last minute to send out defenses. Special cells in our bodies alert us when we are under attack and help us prepare to fight the germs.

Heidi: Strengthening the immune system can be a big subject to talk about. In your years of experience in healthcare, how do you like to teach people about this specific topic so they can take away something valuable and practical?

Terri: I like to think about taking care of the immune system in terms of two buckets: One is prevention, and one is balance. There are lots of ways to stay healthy and these fall into the prevention bucket (a.k.a. germ warfare). The number one way to stay healthy and avoid sickness is washing your hands and washing them well.

Tip from Terri: Don’t touch doorknobs: use a paper towel to grab the door and then throw it away. This is great to teach your kids and grandkids!

In addition to washing your hands well, get enough sleep, cover your cough, stay home when you are sick, and keep your kids home when they are sick. Although the pandemic presented masks in a negative way, historically, around the world, wearing a mask when you feel sick is considered simply being a good human. And last, I would like to encourage everyone to see a primary care provider. Establishing care with someone you trust is so important, and for most people, this means maybe one hour of your time per year!

Heidi: It is now October when the sniffles and coughs start up again. There isn’t a magic potion we can take to prevent sickness from hitting our homes. But what are some ways we can build up and strengthen our immune system?

Terri: This question is the perfect segway into the next bucket, which is balance. When we think about balance in terms of our health, it has to be our whole body – body, mind, and spirit. When it comes to eating a healthy diet and staying well hydrated, do the best you can! Stay away from foods that are high in sugar and beverages that are high in caffeine – everything in moderation and balance. I will say the same thing about physical activity: do what you can! You may hear 30 minutes a day of physical activity is recommended, but research is showing that just 10 minutes makes a significant difference to your health.  If you can do some physical activity outside, that is even better.

Heidi: For most of us, when we think about keeping our body strong, nutrition and exercise are the first things that come to mind. You mentioned mind and spirit as part of the balance bucket. What would you like readers to know about how taking care of mind and spirit also plays a key part?

Terri: Although important, staying healthy is not just about eating your vegetables and staying hydrated. Taking care of our mind and spirit is so important yet is something we too often forget.  First off, accept yourself for who you are.  Accept what you can do to stay healthy. Accept your own situation. What works for me is not going to work for my co-worker who has 4 children. Taking care of mind and spirit needs to be something that works for you. Trying an alternative therapy service may be a good option for you – relax with a massage, make an appointment for acupuncture or a chiropractor adjustment. Meditation and yoga are two other wonderful ways to decompress, gather your thoughts, and be still. I mentioned getting outside and enjoying nature. Maybe taking a walk in the woods or spending time hunting is what you need to do to unwind. Whatever works for you to shut off all the other things around you will help you find your balance.

Tip from Terri: Whether you live alone or have a house full of crazy kids, adopt one night a week when you turn off the tv and play music in the house. You will be more likely to talk, read a book, or play a game.

Heidi: Unfortunately, we are going to get sick. What advice do you have when sickness hits?

Terri: Take care of yourself. Here is the opportunity to work on the balance bucket. There may be days when you start to feel sick. You are tired and run down with headaches or nausea. Stay home and get rest. Give yourself permission to stay home and not worry about the dishes. You are not home sick so you can clean your house. You are home sick so you can get better, and you will get better faster.

Heidi: Thank you, Terri, for helping us stay healthy this season. I really love the visual of the two buckets – prevention and balance. Any final thoughts on how the two buckets work so well together?

Terri: Trying to keep the germs away is prevention. The combination of our prevention efforts with balance in body, mind, and spirit (not a perfect balance, no one can find a perfect balance), strengthens our immune system. When the bad germs do get through, our bodies are equipped to fight them as best we can. Stay healthy, everyone!

To schedule your influenza vaccine, call the ViaroCare clinic with questions: (608) 668-2103.


Boost Up with Broth!

While these modern-day aids are helpful in keeping our immune systems in working order, perhaps this season you might consider adding one additional tool to the mix. Have you ever wondered why chicken noodle soup, while so simple, seems to make everything feel better? If you haven’t guessed it yet, we’re talking about the understated broth!

Before jumping into all things bone broth, we must first go back, way back in time to our prehistoric ancestor folks. You see, during the times of feast and famine our ancestors started making bone broth out of necessity. To them, throwing away any part of an animal was unthinkable considering how rare successful hunts were. What they may not have realized was that the pot hanging over the open fire full of bones, connective tissue, and root vegetables would create a super elixir to help them stay alive and well.

When describing the benefits of bone broth, think about it like a professional body builder wearing oversized sweats. At first glance it does not appear to be anything too impressive, but underneath is a chiseled-out powerhouse of a being. You see, bone broth has a vast array of benefits such as collagen which supports our joints, protein, electrolytes, and an array of trace vitamins and minerals which fight inflammation, support better sleep, and aid in better digestion. Let’s get started, while making bone broth might sound intimidating, starting with a basic recipe is a great way to get started:

  • One gallon of water
  • 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV helps extract the valuable nutrients out of the bones and it does not affect the taste)
  • 2-4 pounds of animal bones
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: vegetables, herbs, spices
  • Place all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker
  • Bring to a boil
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12-24 hours. The longer you cook the better it will taste and the more nutritious it will be.
  • Allow the broth to cool. Strain it into a large container (cheese cloth works great) and discard the solids. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Pro tips:

  • Collect bones (cooked and raw) and store them in a freezer zip lock until you are ready to use them.
  • Keep your scraps! Carrot peels, celery bulbs, onion, and garlic peels. These can be frozen ahead of time as well. You might be surprised how quickly they fill up.
  • Freeze extra broth in glass containers. Leave two inches of room at the top to allow for expansion.
  • Sub in broth! Add broth to your pasta water for maximized flavor, use in casseroles, sauces, gravies, or drink by itself!
  • Grass fed works best and tends to offer more of the gelatin which is a sign of a vitamin rich broth (don’t fear it, embrace it!)

Tomato sauce recipe:

  • Two cups bone broth
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp oregano chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan
  • Heat over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce to low heat and cover, allowing the sauce to simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Serve over pasta, meatloaf, and more.

We each have our own comfort foods we associate with fall and feeling under the weather. Add bone broth to your list this season as you do all you can to fight off the sniffles, fevers, and coughs.


Heidi Kutz                                                                                   Kathryn Schmeling

Education Specialist, ViaroHealth                                        Business Development Manager, ViaroHealth

For questions or comments, please contact

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333 Front St. N
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 668-2111

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