For this week’s Hump Day Health Tip, I am going to talk about what you can eat to help you fight through the common cold or the flu. During the cold and flu season I am often asked about the healthiest diet to use during one of these illnesses. One of the common questions I hear from patients is if they should “feed a cold and starve a fever.”
First, this is a myth, probably from the middle ages, and is not a plan you should follow if you are sick. In fact, one of the most important things to do when sick is to provide your body with fluids and nutrition, no matter what the illness may be.
Patients also ask me about the old-fashioned remedy of chicken soup. As opposed to some other traditional remedies, this one actually can help. Any soups and broths can provide fluid for hydration and electrolytes that the body needs. It is easy to get dehydrated during one of these illnesses, particularly if there are fevers. The fluid and electrolytes in chicken soup can help prevent dehydration and some of the effects it causes. On top of this, hot soups can be soothing to the throat and help open sinus passages.
Other useful nutrients for your body when you are sick include proteins. Proteins play an important role in your body, and foods such as turkey, fish and chicken are great sources while you are sick. Fatty meats may not be as good as the leaner options for when you are feeling under the weather.
Many experts also advise eating foods that are high in antioxidants. There is some research that shows antioxidants are able to help boost the immune system. Some good sources of these antioxidants include the beta-carotene foods such as apricots, asparagus, liver, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, peaches, grapefruits, squash and tomatoes.
Vitamin C has long been thought to help fight cold and flu symptoms, although there is debate about this amongst experts. Nevertheless, foods high in vitamin C can potentially help with cold and flu symptoms, and therefore can be worth giving a try.
Here are some other foods that research shows may help you fight through the common cold:
- Foods high in zinc
Overall, when you are suffering from a cold it is key that you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or possibly sports drinks. Soups and broths can help keep you hydrated and provide your body with needed electrolytes. Outside of that, try to eat healthy foods and lean proteins. These are good ideas for your everyday diet, but can be even more important when trying to fight off the symptoms of the common cold or flu.