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Disease & Conditions >>> Cold & Flu Articles & News

Food to Fight Colds and Flu: 7 Great Healing Foods

By: Lynn Grieger, R.D., C.D.E.

Are you protected against the cold and flu season? Even if you've had a flu shot, you need to wash your hands religiously and take vitamin C or echinacea for extra insurance. Remember that what you eat may help prevent or treat those common wintertime illnesses. Try these delicious ideas; they taste great, and just may make you feel better, too.

1. Chicken soup has to be at the top of the list. Hot chicken soup helps clear clogged airways, and the nourishing broth will give you more energy. Add plenty of vegetables, including onion and garlic, for extra healing power.

2. Hot and spicy food. Some folks swear by garlic, hot peppers or hot sauce to help break up congestion. Cook ethnic foods that contain these ingredients, or simply add hot sauce to foods for extra zip.

3. Garlic. This fragrant bulb seems to help reduce symptoms of colds and flu. Add garlic liberally to your favorite foods, or even chew a raw clove or two.

4. Fluids. Stay hydrated with plenty of liquids. Instead of coffee, soda or sweetened beverages, drink plenty of water and pure fruit juices. Hot beverages work better for some people; try tea, hot water mixed with lemon or even hot lemonade.

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5. Citrus fruits. Reach for citrus fruits to increase your vitamin C intake. Drink orange juice for breakfast, snack on half a grapefruit, or add tangerine slices to a lunchtime salad. Increased vitamin C is especially important if you smoke, as smoking increases both your risks for colds and your body's need for this protective vitamin.

6. Vitamin C sources. Citrus fruits aren't the only foods high in vitamin C. Include potatoes, green peppers, strawberries and pineapple in your daily cold-fighting food arsenal.

7. Ginger. Many people find liberal use of fresh ginger root helps treat colds and the flu. Try making a ginger tea: Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger; let steep 5-10 minutes.

Remember that if our typical daily routine includes skipped meals, lots of caffeine for "energy" and a steady diet of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods, we're setting ourselves up for illness. Make sure to eat plenty of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and low-fat protein to keep your immune system in top shape. Think of nutritious foods as part of your cold-and-flu-season armor, and you'll be ready to do battle whenever illness strikes.

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