Learn How You Can Fight a Cold with Food

  • by LA Fitness
  • November 12, 2013

Here we go again…Cold and flu season is right around the corner, and prevention is the best medicine. But when you already have a bug, getting rid of it and feeling normal again is the goal, right? Well, did you know that you can fight back by eating to boost your immune system? Cold medicines generally only manage symptoms and do not actually cure the illness, but with nutritional support you can supply your immune system with what it needs to help you beat that cold or flu bug.

If taken immediately at the first signs and symptoms of a cold, supplements derived from the Echinacea herb are known to reduce severity and duration. The same is said to be true for a 1,000 mg dose of Vitamin C taken daily. The benefit of taking either supplement may lead to shortening the amount of time you have a cold and/or making it milder.

Boosting certain white blood cells called monocytes and lymphocytes may help rid a cold sooner. White blood cell production is supported by certain vitamins and minerals. The following are good food sources of these nutrients:

Citrus fruit (including orange juice) – folate, Vitamin C

Cocoa – copper

Dark green leafy vegetables – folate, copper, beta carotene, Vitamin B-6

Beans, legumes – folate, zinc, copper

Fortified cereal – folate

Eggs – Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc

Fish – Vitamin D, zinc, Vitamin B-6

Orange colored fruits and vegetables – Vitamin A, beta carotene

Other fruits & vegetables:

Banana, Potato, Vegetable juice – Vitamin B-6

Bell peppers, Broccoli, Tomato, Strawberries – Vitamin C

Milk & milk products – Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc

Nuts – zinc, copper

Meats (beef, pork, poultry) – Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, zinc, copper

Shellfish – copper, zinc

Whole grains – zinc, copper

Plant foods also provide polyphenols which are helpful in combating viruses. Green tea is an excellent source of catechins, a type of polyphenol. Significant amounts of polyphenols can also be found in black currants, black grapes, blueberries, cherries, black grapes, plums and soybeans.

To keep your immune system up to par, avoid very low-calorie diets and/or high fat intake.  Drink plenty of fluids to thin mucus, making it easier to expel along with the viral particles trapped in it.

Another line of attack is to build your internal defenses – colonic bacteria – with probiotics.  A daily yogurt is rich in probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and it just might do the trick.

Next time you catch a runny nose, turn to your refrigerator and pantry to treat the common cold.   That way you can enjoy eating the sniffles away.

Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –


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