Let Your Snack Fight the Sniffles!
Lisa Zarny, MS, RD, CD-N, Jane Wynne, MS, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
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During the cold winter months, what you put into your body can help fight off lingering indoor germs that make us feel sick. Since gut health is directly linked to immune system health, it is essential to pay close attention to what we are feeding our bodies during cold and flu season.1 By keeping these nutrients and foods in mind, you will be well-equipped to bounce back from any winter cold.
Chicken soup is good for more than just the soul; it’s great for colds, too! Soup is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals to give your body the nutrients it needs to recover. Protein from the chicken allows for your body to create more immune system fighters to destroy the cold-causing germs, while vegetables in the soup provide vitamins and minerals to protect cells and facilitate healthy regeneration. Warm soup also raises body temperature and opens airways to loosen mucous and secretions that house viruses and bacteria.2
Keep the vampires and the colds away! Allicin is an active ingredient in garlic that is found to be antimicrobial and antibacterial to help fight off pesky cold-causing microbes. In addition, garlic helps to promote healthy gut flora to get rid of the bacteria and viruses before they have the chance to make us feel sick. Adding garlic to your soup or crushing some garlic up to put in a sauce for dinner is a great way to let this food work its magic.
Tumeric is a rich, yellow powder often used as a spice in curry dishes. This spice is found to be high in antioxidants to protect cells from damage and is considered anti-inflammatory. Studies show that consuming turmeric can reduce viral replication by over 90 percent.3 By incorporating some of this delicious spice into your meals this winter, you could be protecting your body from a nasty cold.
Tea with honey is often a go-to when you’re feeling under the weather. Studies show that honey appeared to be as effective as a common over-the-counter cough syrup ingredient dextromethorphan.4 However, steer clear from this cough remedy for any children under the age of 1 to prevent the risk of a certain food poisoning called infant botulism.
Although vitamin C is well-known for curing colds, vitamin D is considered more important to immune health. Vitamin D supports the body’s antimicrobial process by regulating the gene that supports white blood cell production.5 Foods high in vitamin D include fortified breakfast cereals, egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, milk, and yogurt.
Now that you’re well-versed on cold-fighting foods, you can help protect your family from the colds that winter brings. Next time you feel a tickle in your throat, you’ll know what snack to snag to beat the sniffles!
1. Oregon State University. "Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues." ScienceDaily. 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916122214.htm>.
2. Christina Yu. “7 Immunity-Boosting Foods to Fight Colds and Flu.” Daily Burn. 27 November 2017. Web < http://dailyburn.com/life/health/immune-system-foods-colds-flu/>
3. Owen Bond. “Tumeric & the Flu.” LiveStrong.com. 3 October 2017. https://www.livestrong.com/article/374943-turmeric-the-flu/
4. James M. Steckelberg. “Honey: An effective cough remedy?”. Mayo Clinic. 5 June 2015. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/honey/faq-20058031.
5. Dietitian Cassie. “6 ways to batter a cold.” Healthy Simple Life. https://www.healthysimplelife.com/6-ways-to-battle-a-cold-with-nutrition/.