Clobber the Cold - With Foodby Fitness and Freebies
Researchers also know that certain foods can help prevent colds and provide some relief from symptoms. Here is an evaluation of the foods that are believed to work best when you are fighting a cold or trying to avoid getting sick.
Strive for Five
There is no better way to bolster your immune system than by incorporating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. A strong immune system could stave off a cold from striking you in the first place. And it certainly will give you more ability to fight the colds you do catch.
Forget Crash Dieting
Losing more than one pound a week by dieting can suppress the function of one type of immune cell. The cells that were affected, T-cells, are white blood cells that target and kill microbe-infected cells. Researchers noted that the suppression was only temporary, but still caution against losing more than a pound a week on a diet.
A 3.5-ounce serving of this sweet, melon-like fruit provides 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C and ten percent of your daily folate needs. Despite their exotic image, papayas are easy to find in most supermarkets year-round.
By habit most of us turn to orange juice when we come down with a cold, but the lesser-known passion fruit and guava can be just as good for you. Passion fruit helps soothe a sore throat. And, ounce for ounce, guavas, which are similar to melons, have triple the vitamin C of oranges.
Get Straight A's
Vitamin A has been shown to improve the disease-fighting ability of skin and mucous membranes and is necessary for production and activity of several types of white cells. The best food sources are green and yellow vegetables, including carrots (raw are better than cooked), spinach and winter squash.
Spice Up Your Life
Consume something with a little zing, especially foods made with chili peppers, hot mustard, or horseradish, to help clear congestion.
Get Plenty of Fluids
Has your doctor ever told you to drink a lot when you are sick with a cold? The reason is the liquid keeps mucous membranes moist, enabling them to trap cold viruses and dispose of them before they can infect more of your cells. The most recommended fluid is water, but diluted fruit juices, seltzer, decaffeinated coffee and tea work, too. Aim for eight glasses a day. Drinking enough fluids is especially important in the winter when indoor and outdoor air is much drier.
Forget About Alcohol
The one fluid you definitely want to avoid when sick with a cold is alcohol. Several studies indicate that alcohol seems to impair the immune system's ability to wipe out cells infected with the cold virus. It is best to save that beer or glass of wine for days when you are feeling well.
No cold remedy has gotten more attention in the past few years than the mineral zinc. One study, done in 1997, found that zinc lozenges taken within 24 hours of a cold's onset could resolve symptoms within four days. According to studies, zinc blocks the cold virus's ability to adhere to the lining of the respiratory tract. However, these studies are not yet confirmed. To achieve the desired effect from the zinc, you need to take one 13.3-milligram lozenge every two hours while you are awake. The problem is that taking too much zinc can backfire by lowering the body's copper levels, which decreases your ability to fight infection. Also, in 20 percent of the study's patients, the lozenges caused mild queasiness when taken on an empty stomach. And many nutrition experts are not convinced that zinc helps at all. So instead of the lozenges, you could try increasing the amount of zinc-rich foods in your diet. Steak, pork, crab, wheat germ, brown rice and oatmeal are high in zinc.
Try a Little Warm Salt Water
Gargling with an 8-ounce glass of warm water and a few teaspoons of salt makes a sore throat feel better and drains clogged sinuses. You need to gargle at least three times a day.
Have a Cup of Tea
Tea contains theophylline, a natural substance that opens up congested air spaces and helps drain upper-respiratory passages. The warmth of the tea also soothes a sore throat. A little honey can help stimulate mucus production and reduce the throat tickle that accompanies many colds.
Herbs to The Rescue
There is not al that much you can do for a cold, beyond riding it out. However, there are a few herbs that might prove helpful.
This herb has its share of believers and doubters. Those who swear by it believe that echinacea contains substances capable of strengthening the immune system and thus may help the body ward off an infection by a cold or flue virus. The herb is sold in tincture, pill, and tea form. Although its effectiveness is up for debate, most doctors agree that if taking it makes you feel better, then you should take it.
This plant contains an antibiotic substance, berberine that, like echinacea, is said to stimulate the immune system. Many health-food stores sell echinacea drops that also contain goldenseal.
Available in health-food stores, this herb is a favorite remedy of nutritionists for loosening tight coughs. They brew its leaves into a strong tea. The leaves also can be used in a steam vaporizer to relieve coughs. Eucalyptus is found in cough drops and cough suppressants.
As unpleasant as it might sound, garlic is most effective for a cold when eaten raw, since cooking alters some of the herb's active ingredients. Garlic contains selenium, a natural immune system booster. It acts as an expectorant when consumed in a tea or used with warm water for gargling. Try throwing a handful of minced garlic on top of a serving of pasta. (You might find yourself enjoying it).
Ginger tea is recommended for getting rid of chills, relieving sinus and chest congestion, and countering nausea. You can get the same benefits by grating fresh ginger into the foods you prepare.
A common component of Japanese herbal remedies, licorice extract is believed to boost immunity. It also can be used as an expectorant for upper-respiratory congestion.
Peppermint tea taken at the first sign of a cold can alleviate symptoms of viral infection, including cough and fever.
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