Prevention

4 foods to ease cold and flu symptoms

New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Flu Cold Food
Get the vitamins and antioxidants you need from your food instead of supplements when possible to stay healthy and well.

Cold and flu season is upon us again. Washing your hands frequently and getting your flu vaccine can help keep you healthy, but sometimes that’s not enough.

If you do get sick this year, here are four tips to ease the symptoms of the common cold and the flu, plus a couple of healthy, soothing recipes.

1. Sip hot broths and beverages

It turns out your mother was right. Hot chicken soup and tea with honey and lemon provide relief when you are sick.

Inhaling warm vapors raises the temperature of the respiratory passages, which loosens thickened nasal mucous. In addition, the fluid in soup, tea, and other beverages replaces water lost through increased mucous and sweat production.

2. Enjoy vitamin C from food sources

You might be tempted to take the dietary supplement vitamin C to reduce the duration of a cold. But your best source of vitamin C may be in your refrigerator. It’s easy to get the recommended amount – 75 mg per day for women or 90 mg per day for men – by eating foods that are rich in vitamin C, including:
  • Citrus fruits
  • Kiwifruits
  • Red and green peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
Be careful to avoid grapefruit, Seville (sour) oranges, and tangelos if you are taking medications to lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, or anxiety. Ask your doctor about your prescription – not all medications for these conditions cause reactions to these fruits.

If you decide to take a vitamin C supplement, do not exceed the upper limit of 2,000 mg per day. That’s the highest recommended amount that will not cause unpleasant side effects. Even though vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, and therefore not stored in the body, too much vitamin C in supplement form can cause diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. It also can increase the development of kidney stones in men.

3. Consider zinc lozenges

Some studies suggest that the mineral zinc, when taken as a lozenge, may reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms. In lozenge form, zinc may prevent rhinovirus – a virus that causes upper respiratory infections – from forming and multiplying in the throat.

Clinical studies have suggested that patients may benefit from taking zinc lozenges (approximately 13 mg to 23 mg) every two hours, with a total daily amount of 75 mg or more. This amount exceeds the upper limit for zinc, so limit use to no more than two weeks if you decide to try it.

Researchers continue to study the effectiveness of zinc on cold and flu symptoms. Ask your doctor before you start taking zinc to see if it’s a good choice for you.

4. Eat foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins

Some research suggests that antioxidantsmay play a role in easing common cold or flu symptoms. The thought is that antioxidants may prevent damage to immune cells by neutralizing free radicals – agents in the environment that may damage your cells and reduce your immunity.

More research is needed to determine the true effects of antioxidants. Still, many foods that contain antioxidants are healthy for your diet because they are rich in other vitamins.

Here are a few foods that contain antioxidants:
  • Almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach contain alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E).
  • Sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark, leafy greens contain carotenoids (a form of vitamin A).
  • Fruits and vegetables, avocados, tea, and coffee contain polyphenolic flavonoids (a form of antioxidant).
If you’re not feeling your best, try the tasty, soothing recipes below to help relieve your symptoms.

Lemon Honey Water

Ingredients

¾ of a mug of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (juice from half of a small lemon)

Directions

Heat water in the microwave. Add honey and lemon juice. Microwave again until you’re satisfied with the temperature.

Easy Homemade Chicken Rice Soup

Ingredients

3 32-oz. cans of low-sodium chicken broth
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 carrots (sliced)
3 stalks of celery (chopped)
¼ cup uncooked rice
2 cups chicken (cooked)
Parsley (fresh chopped)

Directions

Heat broth to a boil. Add vegetables. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes at a low boil. Add rice. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes at a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken, and heat for 30 minutes or more. Before serving, top with fresh parsley.

Nutrition Facts:

Per 1½ cup
Total Calories: 95; Total Fat: 1.6 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Total Carbohydrate: 11 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sodium: 204 mg; Protein: 8.3 g

Do you have a favorite healthy, symptom-soothing recipe? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Get Personalized Updates

Let’s stay in touch! Get our occasional alerts about new blog posts, upcoming events, opportunities, and more.

Sign me up!