When a person has a stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and/or throbbing headaches, the symptoms can point towards a cold or the flu. These symptoms can also overlap. So, unless a doctor runs a diagnostic test, it is hard to determine what the person is suffering from. More often than not, flu is worse than the common cold and can lead to complications like pneumonia. Both are caused by viruses and are highly contagious. If a person is down with cold and flu, it is important to eat a healthy diet to accelerate the process of recovery.
Some studies suggest that the following foods may reduce the symptoms of cold and flu:
- Chamomile tea
Chamomile is known to have antibacterial properties and is also commonly regarded as a sleep inducer. The symptoms of cold and flu can make a patient restless and uncomfortable, which can affect their sleep. Lack of sleep can mess up one’s immunity, which can be counterproductive when they’re down with cold and flu. So, a cup of hot chamomile tea can help the body relax and provide a good night’s sleep, consequently helping the body to fight the virus.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a natural and potent anti-inflammatory compound. Curcumin has also been proven to enhance antibody responses and boost immune cell activity. Studies have shown that combining turmeric with black pepper significantly increases bioavailability. One can either mix black pepper and turmeric in honey and consume it twice a day or add the two spices in smoothies, soups, and cooked veggies.
- Dried tart cherries
Cherries are a powerful source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Dried tart cherries also reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract symptoms. They are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, a hormone that helps control one’s sleep cycle. This is important because sleep deprivation can mess up the immune system.
Anti-inflammatory foods such as walnuts contain several nutrients such as vitamin E and B6, copper, and folate that help boost the immune system. Research has shown that as cold and flu may add to psychological stress and it can weaken one’s immunity. Walnuts can reduce stress and help one feel better.
- Extra virgin olive oil
Much like chamomile, extra virgin olive oil possesses antibacterial properties. Using this oil for cooking can help one get relief from the symptoms of cold and flu. It also contains antioxidants that protect the body against immune-mediated inflammatory conditions.
For decades, soup has been a go-to food for those with cold and flu. The effect of soup is twofold. The steam from the soup helps to thin the mucus and combat inflammation. This, in turn, helps one get rid of a stuffy nose.
Garlic has been used to fight infections, treat wounds, and ward off illnesses for a long time. Research shows that garlic has immune-bolstering abilities. Studies also confirm that aged garlic extract may enhance immune cell function and help fight infections such as cold and flu.
- Raw honey
Raw honey has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It has also been shown to help ease a cough. Manuka honey, a variety native to New Zealand, can specifically help bolster immunity and potentially provide relief from cough.
The anti-inflammatory root eases nausea and also possesses antimicrobial properties that can provide relief from symptoms such as sore throat and chest congestion. Opt for fresh ginger root for the best benefits. It is also recommended to drink plenty of lukewarm water to replace the fluid that is lost through a cough.
Apart from eating the aforementioned foods, it is also important to not eat the following foods to avoid worsening of symptoms:
Strawberries contain histamine that can contribute to congestion. This can lead to the formation of mucus and make the patient uncomfortable due to inflammation in the sinus area.
Dairy can thicken the mucus that can result in harmful allergens to stay in the system longer. Full fat milk can also stimulate the production of mucus, which can make it difficult to treat cough and cold. Other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk should also be avoided when suffering from cough and cold.
Caffeinated products such as coffee may seem like a must when feeling worn down from cold and flu; however, it is recommended to not drink coffee to avoid worsening of symptoms. Medical researchers suggest that coffee dehydrates the body, making muscle aches worse. A well-hydrated body ensures an efficient immune system. So, dehydration combined with other symptoms only makes the condition worse.
Monosodium glutamate or MSG contains excess sodium, which can contribute to symptoms such as headaches. MSG is present in packed and processed foods. So, it is advisable to avoid consuming processed foods when suffering from cold and flu.
- Red meat
Some of the main symptoms of cold and flu are nausea and problems related to digestion. Steak contains a lot of fat and proteins which can be difficult to digest. It is essential to eat foods that are not heavy on the digestive system to avoid worsening of symptoms.
- Soy sauce
Much like vinegar, soy cause is a condiment that contains a substantial amount of histamine due to the fermentation involved in its production. It is advisable to avoid the consumption of soy sauce when a patient is suffering from cold and flu. Additionally, soy sauce also contains high levels of sodium, which can result in dehydration.