The flu virus and colds cannot be cured with just food. Hand washing, avoiding contact with people who have the flu or a cold and boosting the immune system are ways you can prevent catching the flu or a cold. However, there are some foods that can help to ease the symptoms of the flu and colds. To help me compile this list, I reached out to a self-proclaimed expert on this topic: My Grammy. A retired nurse and herbal medicine practitioner, she knows a thing or two about home remedies.
For as long as I can remember, food had been a comfort during illness. I lived with my Grammy for a large part of my childhood and she made the best chicken soup for me when I was sick. With a variety of homemade remedies and household cleaners, she was ready to combat flu season. She had specific foods for ailments: spoonful of warm honey and lemon juice for sore throat; ginger water for upset stomach; and a paste of meat tenderizer to rub on a bee sting. As a child, some of these foods were not appealing to me but my Grammy always found a way to create delicious, easy to eat meals that disguised nutritious ingredients.
Here is a list of foods my Grammy insists will help flu and cold symptoms:
Vitamin C: Did you know that broccoli is loaded with vitamin C? One half-cup packs 51 mg., which is more than half of the recommended daily amount (for adults). Citrus fruits are another great option for vitamin C and are loaded with flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. Kiwi, kale, strawberries and papaya are other foods high in vitamin C.
Turmeric: An anti-inflammatory, turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin which is a natural antibiotic in Ayurvedic medicine. A teaspoon of turmeric mixed in warm water can help with a cough.
Ginger + Garlic: These are normally mixed with turmeric in Indian cuisine, they help to fight infection and are warming to the body. Ginger can help ease stomach pain and relieve digestive discomfort. My favorite method of consuming ginger is to blend a piece of ginger with water, strain the solids out and warm it. This might be a too strong for most people and if so, try adding it to green tea with honey and lemon juice.
Carrots: My Granny always loaded the chicken soup with carrots, and for good reason. Orange vegetables are loaded with beta-carotene which our bodies convert to vitamin A. Vitamin A is not only essential for the immune system, it also helps the mucous membranes lining our nose and throats to function properly.
Honey: Honey has anti-fungal properties and its viscosity helps to coat the throat, this is especially helpful when it is sore. My Grammy started each day with a spoonful of raw honey even when she was not sick. When I had a sore throat she would warm the honey slightly and mix in a bit of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. The lemon adds powerful Vitamin C and the sea salt contains many minerals. (Note: Please do not feed honey to infants under the age of one year.)
Chicken soup: My Grammy insists on this. As a plant-eater, I prefer to use vegetable broth; however, chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid that can help thin the mucus in the lungs. The hot broth, whether it be chicken or vegetable-based, helps to keep the nasal passages clear while the salt and liquid prevent dehydration and fight inflammation in the throat. My Grammy refused to give up her secret chicken soup recipe but here is a juice recipe that I love to use when I start feeling ill. This juice is packed with Vitamins A and C, iron and folate. Add kale or spinach for an extra boost of vitamin K!
Carrot Apple Orange Juice:
- Ingredients: two (2) large organic raw carrots; one (1) organic Granny Smith apple (the tartness cuts down on the sweetness of the carrot and orange); one (1) orange; one (1) small piece of ginger; optional: raw kale and raw spinach
- Peel the ginger and orange and place all ingredients into a juicer. Save the pulp to compost or add to salads or soups, it is filled with fiber. No juicer? No problem! Visit Purerawjuice in Baltimore and Towson, Maryland for delicious, nutrient-packed juices and smoothies.
January 2019, Hope Neuman, G.C.H.N.