The season change is well known for raising your chances of catching a cold or the flu. From children to older adults, almost everyone is vulnerable during the flu season. Since there is no cure for either the common cold or the flu, prevention and then symptomatic treatment are your best options. Eating a proper diet containing the right foods can help give your immune system a boost so it can help you cope with mild illnesses and recover faster. Additionally, some foods can also provide medicinal benefits during this season, without any fear of side effects.
Following are some foods that you should add to your diet if you have the flu or a cold as they will help you get back up on your feet faster:
Garlic is believed to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that can help treat the influenza infection. A study was conducted by the University of Western Australia to determine the effectiveness of garlic in preventing the common cold. There were two treatment groups: garlic and placebo and it was found that the garlic group had fewer flu infections as compared to the placebo group. The garlic group also experienced a faster recovery if they did get the flu.
Even today, most of our mothers or grandmothers would tell us to have a cup of ginger tea when we’re suffering from a sore throat or common cold. This home remedy works because ginger has anti-inflammatory (supported by a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food) properties that help soothe the throat. The next time you get the flu, do not forget to grab a cup of warm ginger tea.
Soups not only promote a healthy appetite but also help to hydrate the body as they are packed with electrolytes. Soups are also packed with various nutrients from vegetables or chicken and can be had much more easily when one is feeling sick. A recent study conducted by the American College of Chest Physicians states that chicken soups can be helpful in reducing inflammation that occurs due to the common cold.
Lemons are a great source of vitamin C and promote recovery from the common cold. Research has shown that vitamin C benefits in managing cold common cold and also boosts the immune system to limit the severity of flu. Lemons can help maintain the electrolyte balance to prevent dehydration, which can happen due to sweating and a runny nose - typical symptoms of the common cold. Sip on a cup of warm lemon tea or squeeze some fresh lemon juice on to your food to ensure a speedy recovery.
5. Chilli peppers
The most common symptoms associated with the seasonal flu are body ache, nasal congestion, runny nose or sneezing. Cayenne pepper, red chilli or other spicy peppers are said to help in easing the symptoms of runny nose and body pain. A 2016 study states that capsaicin, a compound present in chilli peppers, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help in relieving body pain. It goes on to add that capsaicin also reduces mucus secretion and can therefore help alleviate a runny nose. Do not be afraid to add a pinch of red chilli powder to your food. However, if you have diarrhea along with the common cold, then it’s best to avoid this food.
Honey, the age-old home remedy, is now recognized by researchers for its effectiveness in managing the flu. Honey, with its antimicrobial anti-inflammatory properties, helps in relieving cough and other common cold symptoms. In August 2020, a study released by Oxford University Medical School concluded that honey can not only be helpful in relieving the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections but also compared it to be a pocket-friendly alternative to expensive antibiotics. Drink a teaspoon of honey mixed with your favorite cup of tea to relieve cough and other symptoms of the flu and cold.
This popular spice present in most Indian kitchens is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and promotes faster recovery. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Immunology states that turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin. Along with having anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin is also considered to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that boosts immunity to fight infections. While cooking, add a pinch of turmeric to your foods. You can also add some to a warm glass of milk.
For more information, read our article on Flu (Influenza).
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