Sore throat, congested nose and lack of taste: these are just some of the hallmarks of the common cold, and they can make eating difficult. But recuperating from a cold as soon as possible depends on eating the right foods and stocking up on immune-boosting nutrients.
In a recent article published online, registered dietitian Jaclyn London shares her list of immune-boosting foods that can help reduce the duration of a cold. Eating these foods on a regular basis can also help minimize the risk of catching a cold in the future, London adds.
Top cold-fighting foods
Here are 15 healthful foods to eat in order to get rid of colds as soon as possible and reduce the risk of catching it again:
- Yogurt – Beneficial microorganisms in yogurt, called probiotics, help replenish good bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation. Colds can also cause a decrease in appetite, but probiotics can restore it back to normal again.
- Honey – Honey can strengthen immune cells, and it has potent antibacterial properties to boot. For cold treatments, add a dollop of honey into a hot cup of tea for a cough-soothing and antibacterial drink.
- Kale – Green, leafy kale is a great source of immune-boosting nutrients, including manganese, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins C, K and E. Together, these micronutrients can help get rid of cold virus a lot faster.
- Red bell peppers – Red bell peppers and other brightly colored produce are great sources of vitamin C, potassium and folate. As a rule of thumb, the brighter the pepper, the more vitamin C it has.
- Oats – Oatmeal, not the instant kind, is great for colds. Bland but nutritious, oatmeal offers significant amounts of fiber, calories and micronutrients, including manganese, magnesium, zinc and iron. Together, these nutrients support immune health.
- Fermented foods – There are other fermented foods besides yogurt that help promote faster healing. These include kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir and sauerkraut. The probiotics in these foods act as a line of defense against the cold virus.
- Ginger – Ginger is a natural anti-nauseant food. This means that it can help minimize feelings of bloatedness and constipation during sick days. The natural antimicrobial properties of ginger also help combat infection and disease.
- Chickpeas – Chickpeas are a nutritious plant-based source of fiber and protein. They also contain prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut. In effect, chickpeas help restore appetite and fuel probiotics to further support immune health.
- Shrimp – Shrimps are rich in proteins and omega-3s that combat inflammation and support immune function.
- Chicken soup – Chicken soup is among the most popular remedies for colds–and for good reason. On top of the immune-boosting protein and selenium in the chicken itself, the hotness of the soup is effective at clearing a blocked nose and soothing a sore throat.
- Eggs – Besides their rich protein content, eggs also contain significant amounts of immune-boosting zinc and vitamin D.
- Spinach – Like kale, spinach is a nutrient-dense salad green perfect for boosting immune health during a cold. Spinach also contains iron, an essential mineral that helps stimulate the proliferation of immune cells.
- Tea – Tea acts as a natural decongestant, helping clear the sinus of too much mucus. Plus, the antioxidants in tea, including tannins and catechins, are also hailed for their antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- Seeds – Nutrient-dense seeds, like pumpkin and chia seeds, offer omega-3s that help boost immune response and combat inflammation. Seeds also offer high amounts of other essential nutrients for immune health, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and protein.
- Turmeric – Thanks to its strong antioxidant properties, turmeric is a potent cold-fighting spice. Stir it into drinks or add it to tea to ease a sore throat and treat coughs. (Related: The six health benefits of turmeric.)
Eating the right foods can help get rid of colds faster. Make sure to eat the foods on this list as part of a balanced diet in order to get better from a cold sooner and to reduce the risk of catching it again in the future.
Read more articles about foods and holistic remedies for the common cold at FoodIsMedicine.com.