Did you know that certain foods can boost your immune system, work as a remedy for sore throat and congestion, and even shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the common cold?
While medications certainly help, you can support the healing process by eating certain foods.
Foods like garlic have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, while citrus fruits have high amounts of vitamin C to help you feel less miserable and get better faster.
Next time you’re beginning to feel under the weather, remember these eight foods to eat when you’re sick.
1. Chicken or Other Broth-Based Soup
Broth-based soups are great for when you’re feeling under the weather. Chicken soup has been touted as the best food to eat for colds and flu since the 12th century, and research backs this claim up.
Chicken soup has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties due to cysteine, which is an amino acid found in chicken that is thought to thin mucous in the lungs.
The steam from chicken soup also helps moisten nasal passages and reduces inflammation in the throat. Research has also shown that chicken soup and the thick vegetables and broth that go into it inhibit neutrophil migration in patients with upper respiratory infections.
2. Fermented Food
According to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut contain probiotics that can help prevent colds and even shorten their duration.
Fermented foods can help you feel better when you’re sick because they contain live “healthy” bacteria that support your gut biome. More and more studies are suggesting that a healthy gut biome aids digestion and supports a strong immune system.
Other fermented foods include cultured plain yogurt, fermented soy, pickled vegetables, kombucha, and miso.
3. Hot Tea
Hot tea is a great way to stay hydrated when you’re sick, and the steam can also clear your sinuses and soothe a sore throat. Some teas have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which can also help support your immune system.
According to the Journal of Complementary Medicine, there is evidence that drinking Echinacea tea can boost your immune system and shorten the duration of the common cold – and a squeeze of lemon and spoon of honey in your tea can help ease other symptoms, too.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and immune-boosting properties – it is a powerhouse when it comes to fighting colds and flu.
You can add freshly-pressed garlic cloves to soups and stews or you can try a garlic-infused tea. To make garlic tea, chop three cloves of garlic and infuse them in hot water – try adding honey and fresh lemon juice to disguise the pungent garlic flavor.
5. Raw Honey
Like garlic, honey is another powerhouse for fighting colds and flu. 100% pure, raw honey contains an array of antioxidants to fight inflammation of the nasal passages and throat. Honey also has antibacterial and antifungal properties because it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey kills germs and reduces the duration of infections.
Raw honey also boosts the immune system, helps treat digestive issues, and has also been shown to work as well as dextromethorphan (found in cough suppressant cough medicine) as a natural cough suppressant.
6. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which – according to studies – may reduce the length and severity of the common cold. Citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit also contain flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and give your immune system a boost.
Eating foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C is always a good idea, however, be cautious if you are feeling nauseous or if you have a sore throat because the amount of acid in these foods can irritate your throat and stomach lining.
7. Popsicles and Sorbet
Although it may seem counterproductive to eat something as cold as popsicles or sorbet when you’re feeling ill, they are a great way to stay hydrated. The cold temperature soothes a sore throat by reducing inflammation, and staying hydrated when you are sick helps your body thin out mucous and reduce congestion.
The healthiest popsicles and sorbets to eat when you’re sick are made from 100% pure fruit, and choosing orange and other citrus fruit flavors will give you an extra dose of vitamin C and flavonoids, too.
Bananas are mild in flavor and bland enough to eat even when you’re feeling nauseous. Bananas contain essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, soluble fiber, and several antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Bananas are also great for gastrointestinal illnesses like norovirus.