The flu season is upon us! Our kids are getting it from daycare and school and our coworkers are taking sick days. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent colds through nutrition, but we can make living with a cold more bearable!
First things first, we need to make sure our immune system is working at its best to be able to combat a virus that gets in our body. This can be done by eating a balanced diet, being physically active, reducing stress as much as we can and getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Once that’s done, we need to get certain nutrients to help us fight the common cold. Here are some foods and supplements that can be helpful when you get a cold:
Vitamin C has always been advertised as being the cure to the common cold, but is it actually true? It may not be a cure as it doesn’t reduce the risk of getting a cold, but consuming foods high in vitamin C (such as red peppers, strawberries, oranges, and kiwi) helps to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. So no need to take vitamin C supplements if you don’t have a cold!
Zinc is a mineral that’s found in oysters, fish, seafood, beef, pumpkin seeds and baked beans. Just like vitamin C, taking a zinc supplement within the first day of your cold may reduce symptoms. However, there are a few issues with taking a zinc supplement: we don’t have a recommended dose, it may interfere with some medications you take, and taking too much can cause harm. So do not take it without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first!
Probiotics are the good bacteria in our gut that keeps our immune system healthy and helps keep us regular. The amount needed to fight a cold is about 10 billion probiotic cultures per day. Regular yogurt contains about 1 billion cultures whereas a yogurt with added probiotics will have about 10 billion cultures. Pills, capsules and drinks also exist. However, for the probiotics to be helpful against colds, you need to take probiotics every day for at least three months before the cold season begins (now you know for next season!).
North American ginseng
This herb is available as capsules, liquid or tea. Like the other foods and supplements, taking it doesn’t reduce the chance of you getting a cold, but can help reduce symptoms. You need to take at least 100 mg of North American ginseng extract every day during cold season for it to work.
Echinacea is a flowering plant. It is available in tablets, extract, juice, and tea. Unfortunately, there is no proof yet that it can prevent or treat the common cold.
Oh how I love having a bowl of my mom’s chicken soup when I have a cold! It’s been the go-to comfort food for colds for ages, but is it effective? Turns out it can improve some of the symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, and chills Though it’s not necessarily more effective than other hot liquids, at least this will provide protein that can be lacking if we have a poor appetite.