The common cold has no boundaries. While there seems to be an uprise of this sickness in the winter months, the truth of the matter is that there’s really no rhyme or reason for contracting a stuffy or runny nose, sinus pressure, overall fatigue and other dreadful symptoms associated with the cold. Over-the-counter medicines seem to alleviate symptoms if only for a brief period of time, and the ingredients tend to be questionable for our wellbeing. A holistic approach to steering clear of the common cold starts with prevention, and continues with choosing foods that support a healthy immune system. Read on to discover how you can keep this unwanted sickness at bay.
Tea lovers rejoice! Not only is drinking a cup of tea tasty and hydrating, but it’s medicinal, too. And it seems you can never have too much tea when you’re feeling a cold coming on. That’s because the green and black varieties are packed with antioxidants, including the immune-boosting amino acid L-theanine. They’re also rich in flavonoids, which protect the immune system, too. As for prevention, a Harvard study discovered that people who drank tea every day had immune system cells that responded five times faster to germs than those who didn’t.
It’s a great additive to any dish, but garlic does more than just add some flavor to your food. The cloves contain a potent antimicrobial called allicin that works to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. If you’re serious about sticking it to that oncoming cold, try chewing a clove every 3 to 4 hours, or cut them into small pieces and swallow. Just be sure to throw in a breath mint afterward!
Spices like cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, chili peppers and ginger have been used for their medicinal values for centuries, most notably in the Ayurvedic tradition to break a fever. Modern research is now confirming what healers and traditional medicine practitioners believe about many spices, too. Ginger, for instance, helps to ward off illness. An anti-inflammatory that fights off viruses and reduces pain and fever, it contains sesquiterpenes, which is a compound that prevents the main cause of the common cold, known as rhinovirus. Chili peppers can unclog a stuffy nose thanks to the primary substance found in them, called capsaicin.
- Hot water with lemon and honey
Staying hydrated is important in boosting immunity since drinking water aids in the production of lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Lemon, packed with cold-fighting vitamin C, also works to change the body’s pH level, which can work to ward off viruses and bacteria. Honey is antimicrobial, and helps to fight off infection. Squeeze a wedge of lemon and 1 tablespoon of honey into a cup of hot water and drink up!
Carrots are packed with beta carotene, which works to aid in the health of the body’s mucus membrane. This lines the respiratory and intestinal tracts, and the stronger it is, the harder time bacteria has entering the bloodstream and wreaking havoc on your health. To get the most out of this vegetable, eat them raw, steam them for a side to your dinner, or chop them up and let them soften in your soup recipe.
Not only is grapefruit packed with vitamin C, but the red and pink varieties are rich in the phytonutrients called bioflavonoids, which boost immune system health by protecting the cells of the body from environmental pollutants. For a new spin on the fruit, try broiling it and then sprinkling with the cold-fighting spice cinnamon.
Related: 11 Foods That Boost Immunity
This beloved breakfast item does more than just aid in weight loss. Oats are rich in the fiber beta-glucan, which aids in your body’s white blood cell response to bacteria, virsues and a variety of infections. If you’re not big on cereal, try adding raw oats to your morning smoothie.