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:
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.
- Citrus fruits
- Red and green peppers
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:
If you’re not feeling your best, try the tasty, soothing recipes below to help relieve your symptoms.
- 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).
Lemon Honey Water
¾ of a mug of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (juice from half of a small lemon)
Heat water in the microwave. Add honey and lemon juice. Microwave again until you’re satisfied with the temperature.
Easy Homemade Chicken Rice Soup
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)
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.
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