What to Eat/Drink When You Have a Cold

The snow is melting and the sun is starting to shine (slowly but surely), but there is still time to catch a winter cold, as I have unfortunately found out this week.  It seems like everyone has a different “tried and true” remedy for a cold — zinc, Emergen-C, chicken noodle soup, honey and cinnamon in tea or on toast or oatmeal.

I set out to discover if there are certain foods or drinks that really do help a cold, and I came across a Huffington Post article that called on the expertise of a registered dietician to answer precisely that question.  Here’s the verdict on what to consume (and what to avoid) when you have a cold:

DO Eat/Drink:

Tea  while there’s no scientific proof that tea eases a cold, tea is rich in antioxidants, which fight infection.  Also, warm liquid can soothe a sore throat and break up congestion.

Chicken Noodle Soup — again, the warm liquid helps a sore throat and congestion, but a 2000 study actually found that common soup ingredients (i.e. veggies and chicken) work together as an anti-inflammatory.

Protein — even if your appetite has decreased, don’t skip the protein.  You don’t want to cut out something your body needs on a good day just because you’re sick.  In fact, it’s more important to eat right when you’re sick, so your body stays strong enough to fight infections.  Just stay away from anything deep fried or heavy (like steak) and stick to lighter meats such as fish, chicken, and turkey.

Ginger — again, anti-inflammatory!  Try boiling it until the water turns yellow, then drinking it like tea, or make a ginger-flavored chicken meal.

Garlic — garlic contains the compound allicin, which blocks infection.  Perhaps you could put garlic in your chicken noodle soup, for mega cold-fighting action!

DON’T Eat/Drink:

Juice — any drink with added sugar is not a good idea, because sugar makes it harder for your body to fight infection.  Even though some juices are high in Vitamin C, it’s better to eat an orange than to drink orange juice.

Alcohol — not only does alcohol make you dehydrated, the exact opposite of what you need to fight a cold, but it can also suppress your immune system.

Dairy — while the article is on the fence about this one, I’m going to step in and say no.  As a singer, I know that dairy products coat your throat and increase mucus, and more mucus is the very last thing you want when you have a cold!

There you have it!  I have to admit, I was surprised about the juice, but the rest makes sense.  Now excuse me while I go cozy up with a blanket, some tea, and a box of Kleenex.

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