You can blame your cold on that sniffling coworker at work, riding germ-ridden subways, or going out with a wet head during winter – but what you’re eating plays a bigger role in what’s ailing you. Yes, diet and nutrition are a critical factor for immune responses, with malnutrition the most frequent cause of immunodeficiency. To put it plainly – if you’re well fed, and consuming the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, you’re practicing preventive care for the common cold.
The human body has a staggering number of bacterial cells (approximately 100 million) – with a hefty number of those thriving in the stomach. But not all bacteria are bad, some types of gut flora signal the brain as to what nutrients may be lacking from one’s diet. The saying “Go with your gut” has never been more apropos. Essentially, the amount of “good” bacteria – or lactobacillus, bifidus and acidophilus – optimize how well your body functions and fights off disease. Do you feel like your diet is lacking? Consider starting with a high-quality probiotic supplement, which will boost the body’s levels of healthy bacteria. Looking to up your intake through dietary decisions? Add yogurt into your rotation as a future cold deterrent.
To enhance our overall immune health, we must put our questionable dietary choices on the chopping block. Lay off the sweets, sodas, and refined sugars until your cold symptoms have subsided. The prospect of ice cream and candy may sound tempting when your temperature is at an all-time high, and your throat is throbbing – but, opt for some vitamin-rich fruit instead. Foods with high sugar content are notorious for suppressing the immune system & increasing inflammation.
When a cold is on the horizon, it’s important to stay adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Your daily cup of Joe, while delicious, is counterproductive to these efforts and acts as a diuretic. Try opting for caffeine-free tea for the time being. Better yet, reach for a green tea variety; they pack a punch of healthy, antioxidants called polyphenols to help block infections among healthy cells, while still providing some of that much desired caffeine.
You may be wondering what you can eat when those cold-symptoms start to pop up? There’s a reason chicken soup is synonymous with cold care. For one, it’s an excellent (and soothing) source of vitamins, minerals, calories, and protein – all things your body needs to fight the disease. It also provides electrolytes and fluids, in a much better vessel than those sugary sports drinks can. Chicken is a particularly talented cold-fighter because it contains an amino acid called cysteine; in addition to mitigating mucus, it possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.
Used for medicinal purposes for centuries, garlic (while not great for your breath) is wonderful for warding off cold symptoms. It stimulates the immune system, thus shortening the length of your cold symptoms. In a recent study of cold sufferers, the group who supplemented with garlic spent 70% fewer days sick than those who did not.
Leafy, green vegetables are a sickness diet staple. Loaded with beneficial plant compounds such as Vitamins A, C, K and Folate – their anti-bacterial properties are off the charts. As far as fruits go, it seems that citrus gets all the love when it comes to curing colds. However, berries are also touted for their terrific immune-supporting flavonoids. Reach for berries that are red, blue, or purple; their deep hue is indicative of their flavonoids, which will fight off viruses and stimulate immune function.
Do you include ginger in your diet? Celebrated as a traditional remedy for centuries, ginger is brimming with anti-inflammatory gingerols and shogaols that can kill the Rhinovirus. Steep the root in some hot water to make tea, or pick up a ginger shot, which is sold at many organic juice shops. It’s a delicious and soothing way to stop your cold in its tracks.
There are plenty of other cold-fighting culinary ideas. Speak with your primary care doctor to learn more. Lynx Healthcare is a Primary Care Provider (PCP) offering comprehensive care – from routine check-ups, to health screenings. Don’t leave your health out in the cold, call their office today. Dial (509) 591-0070 for Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Oregon, Yakima, or Goldendale Pain Clinics, and (509) 321-4575 for their Spokane location.