Foods & Drinks to Help Prevent Colds & Flu

Yes, this is that time of year for all of the holiday cheer and joyous celebrations and family gatherings. It’s time to see family and friends that you many not have seen for months, a year or longer.

Despite all of the seasonal fun, food, family and friends, it’s also the dreaded cold and flu season.

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Just a note, the viruses that cause colds and flu survive in our warm and moist bodies, but quickly are destroyed in the cold dry air of winter. So why is winter the time for colds and flu? I looked it up and many sources say that the changing temperatures really have little to do with getting sick. To be honest, they don’t provide a good reason worth sharing, only to say that this is the time of year to take extra precautions to try to stay healthy.

So, other than wearing a surgical mask and gloves, avoiding people and going out in public and washing your hands dozens of times day, what can you do to try to stay healthy and reduce your risk of catching a cold or the flu?

Did you know there are some foods and drinks you that will help?

YES! The number one food is none other than good ole chicken soup. Everyone has their own recipe or their favorite brand of chicken soup, but there is merit to the old wives’ tale about how healthy chicken soup is. According to one source:

From Eastern European matzah ball soup to Portugese Caldo Verde, every culture has some version of chicken soup. And for good reason. Warm chicken broth helps break up mucous and reduces inflammation in the respiratory tract. Mexico’s answer to this cold weather staple is tortilla chicken soup. It includes jalapeno peppers, which help open the sinuses, antioxidant-rich cilantro, and vitamin C-rich lime juice.”

To go with that, a former classmate of mine in college introduced me to his father who was the main druggist in a mining town. He knew most everyone in town and knew who got sick, when they got sick and what they had. When I met him, he had 15-years’ worth of records that shocked me. Over that time frame, those who rarely caught a cold or had the flu, ate hot peppers as part of their daily diet and those who regularly got sick, rarely ate hot peppers. As it says in the quote above, the peppers help keep the sinuses open plus they are rich in antioxidants and other important properties.

The author that I quoted above also offers what he calls his Gut Health Grain Bowl, a dish full of probiotics. He describes his dish:

“When I’m feeling run down, or when I’m trying to bounce back after a cold, I make this Gut Health Grain Bowl. You can use brown rice, quinoa or another whole grain as the base. Then top it with kimchi, Brussels sprouts, pistachios, mushrooms and a fried egg.”

“Kimchi is fermented cabbage with onion, ginger and garlic and it’s a great source of probiotics, beneficial bacteria, which help boost gut health. A healthy gut is your first line of defense against getting sick. The pistachios provide prebiotic fiber for those healthy bugs to thrive on. The mushrooms offer vitamin D, which is vital for a healthy immune system. I like adding a fried egg on top for a boost of protein, plus several other essential nutrients, but if you’re not feeling up to it, you can always leave it off.”

You can also turn to things like a hot toddy, made with whiskey, honey and lemon and even tea. Like chicken soup, everyone has their own recipe, but it’s recommended to use honey that is high in antibacterial compounds, like Manuka honey.

Take a sufficient amount of vitamin C daily, but remember, vitamin C is water soluble, so taking high doses is a waste as your body can only utilize so much and then it passed the rest out in your urine.

In addition to chicken broth, some people use bone broth which has many of the same properties as chicken broth.

Some teas can also help boost the immune system. One of the teas I found recommended was puerh tea, a fermented tea, that contains greater amounts of antioxidants than green tea has.

Eat healthy, try to avoid sick people, try fist bumping instead of hand shaking, wash your hands regularly and hopefully, you will all have a wonderfully healthy winter.

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