In this article, you will learn which foods for cold and flu you should consume. In addition, you will learn which foods to avoid. Colds and Flu are caused by related viral infections. A cold may be the beginning or first manifestation of the flu. Cold symptoms include increased mucus production and inflammation of the upper respiratory system (nose and throat). Flu produces more generalized symptoms that include headache and musculoskeletal pain.
The diet should be similar in either case, both to prevent infection and to promote a cure. No food cures cold or flu, nor does any antibiotic or other medication. The body’s own defenses must combat viral infections. Because of this, a proper diet is essential to strengthening the immune system.
Top 7 Best Foods for Cold and Flu
FRUITS: Fruits must form the basis of the diet during a cold or flu. This may be whole fruit or fruit juice. Regular fruit consumption throughout the year acts as a preventive. Fruits provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytochemicals that improve the body’s resistance to disease and promote the elimination of waste products.
GARLIC: Garlic is antibiotic and stimulates the immune system. It also combats viruses and prevents bronchitis and other respiratory infections that are often present as complications of flu. Garlic also contains selenium, a trace element recommended in cases of a viral infection such as colds or flu.
ZINC: Supplements containing the trace element are used to shorten the course of colds and flu. Foods for cold and flu that provide it in abundance are also beneficial. Although oysters are the richest food in zinc, they are not recommended because of their many drawbacks. Wheat germ, sesame, maple sugar, nuts, and oats are good plant-based sources of zinc.
PROPOLIS: This natural substance made by bees acts against a variety of flu causing viruses. It also boosts the immune system.
VITAMIN C: This vitamin is necessary for the immune system to eliminate viral infections. This requires a dose of at least 250 mg a day. Four oranges or one-half tablet of vitamin C supply this amount, although the oranges are much more effective since they also provide organic acids and flavonoids that potentiate vitamin C’s effect. Acerolas, guavas, currants, and kiwis are also rich in vitamin C.
SELENIUM: This trace element acts as an antioxidant and as a stimulant to the immune system. For these reasons, it is recommended for colds and flu. Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, and molasses are the best natural sources of selenium.
VEGETABLES: They provide antioxidant vitamins such as provitamin A and vitamin C, in addition to minerals and phytochemicals. They help purify the bloodstream, neutralize the tendency toward metabolic acidity produced by infections, and aid the body in fighting infection. Vegetables may be eaten raw or in salads, as fresh juice, or cooked in their own broth. Vegetables are among the best foods for cold and flu.
Foods you Should Avoid if you Have the Cold or Flu
SALT: Salt consumption should be restricted to no more than 6 g a day during a cold or flu. Excess consumption contributes to headaches and fluid retention in the tissues.
SUGARS: Sugars reduce the immune response to infections. Excessive consumption of candies, chocolate, pastries, and other refined products made with white sugar foster the development of colds and flu.
MILK: Milk and yogurt promote mucus production in the respiratory tract (nose, throat, bronchial passages), as well as in the sinuses and the middle ear. The consumption of dairy products aggravates the inflammation and the mucus production that usually accompanies colds and flu.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia Of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia Of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 352. [Foods for cold and flu]