7 Surprising Foods To Combat Colds

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7 Surprising Foods To Combat Colds
Infographic – herbs-info.com Photo sources – see foot of article

While there are plenty of diseases that medical science has been able to address, one of the most common has consistently escaped the grasp of thousands of doctors and researchers – the common cold. The term “common cold” doesn’t necessarily point to one specific disease or cause but rather a group of symptoms that typically appear together because of a virus, usually a rhinovirus. Because viruses that display symptoms of a cold are self-limiting (they resolve within a few days, sometimes without doing or taking anything in particular), you might not think a cold is anything to worry about. However, colds can become dangerous if they get worse and turn into pneumonia or an infection that affects the lungs. If anything, it is always best to be prepared – and that means having a strong immune system to help fight off unwanted viruses. [1]

Boosting Your Immunity With Food

Among the lifestyle choices that affect your health, your diet quite possibly plays the biggest role in your immunity. The food you eat on a daily basis contributes to how healthy you are, especially when it comes to vitamins and minerals that can only be taken from food. Here are a few food items you can include in your diet to give your immune system a helpful boost.

1. Sardines

You read that right! Aside from their omega-3 fatty acid content (which makes sardines great at improving cardiovascular health), sardines are also great sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in boosting your immunity, which can help fight cancer, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes mellitus. [2]

2. Bell Peppers

Have you ever heard the saying that the more colorful a fruit or vegetable is, the healthier it is for you? There is some truth to it. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants which help improve your body’s immunity. A study in 2007 found that differently colored bell peppers have different levels of antioxidants – with red peppers having the highest antioxidant content compared to other peppers. [3]

3. Mushrooms

Numerous studies have focused on the vitamin D content of mushrooms, finding that this nutrient was abundant in a variety of mushrooms such as button mushrooms, especially mushrooms that were grown in sunlight and exposed to UV radiation. Vitamin D is a known immune system booster. Historically, the biologically active compounds of mushrooms have been used to prevent and combat cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and the common cold and flu. All of this was possible because of the antioxidant content of mushrooms, which help get rid of free radicals in the body. [4][5]

4. Yogurt

One of the best ways to help fight colds is to give our immune systems a boost. While including fruits and vegetables is a great way to help our immunity along, it can be difficult for people who don’t like eating either fruits or vegetables. A healthy option that involves fruit, as well as probiotics, is yogurt! Yogurt is such a versatile food item; it can be eaten alone as a snack or even mixed with salads and other dishes for a healthy kick. Various studies have focused on the benefits of yogurt, one of which is how probiotic microorganisms present in yogurt can stimulate our immune system and ward off unwanted diseases. In 2013, a study was conducted on probiotics and showed that they could help prevent and reduce cold symptoms by improving immune system function. [6][7]

5. Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has long been used as the cure-all for a cold or flu. But it’s not just a ‘comfort food’: A study by Rennard, et. al. found that the various ingredients used in chicken soup such as vegetables (and even the chicken itself!) largely contributed to its cold-fighting properties, specifically because of anti-inflammation. The study concluded that most chicken soup recipes exhibited a mild anti-inflammatory effect that could mitigate the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection or URTI. [8]

6. Citrus Fruits

Ok, I guess this one wasn’t a surprise. But it’s so valuable as to be worth including. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C or ascorbic acid, which is a potent immune system booster. High intake of citrus fruits (and vegetables) is associated with a reduced risk for degenerative diseases, heart disease, hypertension, cataract, stroke, and even cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and antioxidants in citrus fruits, which keeps the immune system up and running, as well as exhibiting potent anti-inflammatory properties that target the symptoms of the common cold. [9][10]

7. Ginger

Ginger is not only great at curing stomach pains and problems with your gastrointestinal tract, it is also amazing at helping your immune system out and fighting off colds and flu. In 2013, Chang, et. al. focused on the abilities of fresh ginger in fighting against respiratory infections. The study found that ginger exhibited potent antiviral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus that affected the respiratory system. Not only does ginger have significant antiviral properties, it can also help reduce the symptoms of a cold because of anti-inflammatory activity. [11][12]

If you want to fight off a cold, look no further than your own dietary choices. Taking supplements and exercising regularly (which can also boost immunity) can be difficult, but your diet is the one thing you have complete control over. Take the time to adjust your diet and involve these foods and see the difference in your immunity!

Further Reading:

How To Make Fire Cider – A Potent Cold & Flu Remedy

Best Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu

The Top 10 Most Amazing Herbal / Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu: A Definitive Guide


[1] Mayo Clinic. Common cold. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605

[2] Holick, M. (2004). Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/6/1678S.short

[3] Sun, T., et. al. (2007). Antioxidant Activities of Different Colored Sweet Bell Peppers (Capsicum annuum L.). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2006.00245.x/full

[4] Tsai, S., Mau, J. & Huang, S. (2014). Enhancement of antioxidant properties and increase of content of vitamin D2 and non-volatile components in fresh button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus (higher Basidiomycetes) by γ-irradiation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24941035

[5] Rajewska, J. & Balasinska, B. (2004). [Biologically active compounds of edible mushrooms and their beneficial impact on health]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15536392

[6] Ashraf, R. & Shah, N. (2014). Immune system stimulation by probiotic microorganism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24499072

[7] Kang, E., et. al. (2013). The Effect of Probiotics on Prevention of Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial Studies. https://synapse.koreamed.org/DOIx.php?id=10.4082/kjfm.2013.34.1.2

[8] Rennard, B., et. al. (2000). Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691

[9] Silalahi, J., et. al. (2002). Anticancer and health protective properties of citrus fruit components. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1440-6047.2002.00271.x/full

[10] Okwu, D. & Emenike, I. (2006). Evaluation of The Phytonutrients and Vitamins Content of Citrus Fruits. https://docsdrive.com/pdfs/medwelljournals/ijmmas/2006/1-6.pdf

[11] Chang, J., et. al. (2012). Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874112007404

[12] Thomson, M., et. al. (2002). The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) as a potential anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0952327802904412

Infographic photo sources:

Sardines – https://pixabay.com/en/sardines-fish-plated-food-food-1489630/
Bell peppers – https://pixabay.com/en/peppers-red-red-peppers-1947710/
Mushrooms – https://pixabay.com/en/mushrooms-brown-mushrooms-cook-eat-756406/
Yogurt – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Obstjoghurt01.jpg
Chicken soup – https://pixabay.com/en/chicken-soup-ginseng-korea-asia-1346310/
Citrus fruits – https://pixabay.com/en/fruit-food-citrus-pomelo-15408/
Ginger – https://pixabay.com/en/ginger-root-radish-spice-2523758/

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