There is nothing worse than a pesky cold that just won’t go away.  Especially during the winter when all you want to do is enjoy food, family and all the glories of the holiday season.  Everyone has their little family traditions about fighting colds, and can picture their grandmother yelling at them to never go outside with a wet head and to eat plenty of ___ so you don’t catch cold.  I don’t know how much of the advice about fighting colds with food and legitimate and what is more than a wives tale, but there is plenty of information out there about foods that can fight colds.  Even if these don’t actually work, I suppose it is still nice to at least feel like you are being proactive.

With research into colds and the health benefits of food, however, there is some actual scientific evidence that proves certain foods can boost our immune systems and give us the protection to ward off colds.  Here are some foods that can help fight off colds, and if you do happen to fall victim to a cold, some foods that can help reduce your systems and help you feel better. Fortunately, a lot of these are pretty common around the holidays, so you don’t have to go out of your way to boost your immune system.

Chicken Soup

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Luckily, a hot bowl of chicken soup is a legitimate cold remedy. Not only does it sooth your soul and make you feel a little better emotionally, the soup can help to reduce inflammation, which in turns stops your symptoms from getting worse, and it is also a good source of fluids, of which you should be drinking plenty when you are feeling under the weather.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruits

That ever helpful Vitamin C is great for reducing cold symptoms and making your cold a little less miserable.  If you are going to opt for the citrus route, make sure you stick to natural sources like the piece of fruit itself as opposed to store bought juices.  While yummy, they contain a lot of added sugar which can distract white blood cells from fighting infection.

Garlic

Garlic

Garlic contains this helpful little chemical called allicin, which is believed to have some anti-viral effects that can shorten your cold, and maybe even stop you from getting one in the first place.  So if you make sure to cook with plenty of garlic throughout the season, you can reap allicin’s benefits all the time, and block some infections.

Ginger

Ginger Root

Often, we think of ginger in terms of its ability to fight nausea and stomachaches.  As far as colds go, it can suppress coughs, soothe your throat,  is a pain and fever reducer, and also contains compounds that can help you get some sleep.  Many people suggest steeping some ginger in hot water, and then drinking the liquid like tea.

Honey

Honey

Honey, like chicken soup, is another one of those foods that is often immediately suggested as a cure for everything.  Not only is honey great for soothing sore throats, it is also rich in antioxidants that fight infection.  Put some in your ginger “tea” for double the benefits.

Red Wine

Red Wine

This one is maybe a little iffy, but I just couldn’t resist.  Definitely don’t drink any alcohol after you catch a cold, this will only dehydrate you and suppress your immune system.  However, red wine does contain polyphenols and resveratrol which can stop cold viruses from multiplying, so this is another great reason to enjoy a glass of red wine with your dinner.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

When we think of foods that can boost our immune system, typically we think of things that are colorful and bright in flavor, like citrus, but mushrooms have a long history of being used as a remedy for illness. A lot of the compounds in mushrooms also help fight off infection and support the immune system.

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

Eating spicy food is probably not something you want to do if you are really miserable with a cold, but if you are able to scarf down something spicy, the capsaicin will get a reaction out of your sinuses, helping them thin up the mucus and start relieving some of the pressure building up in your sinuses.

For some more cold fighting foods and more information about the ones listed above, check out these sources:

25 Foods that Fight Cold and Flu

10 Best Foods to Fight a Cold

Best and Worst Foods for a Cold

What do you eat when you try to fight off a cold?


Jaimie is a senior at Adelphi University studying Communications and Political Science. She enjoys exploring and adventures, and recently spent a semester abroad in Prague.