No one is immune from the common cold. Some 200 viruses can cause common colds, with the rhinoviruses being the most widespread culprit.
This highly contagious viral infection primarily affects the upper part of the respiratory system including the nose and throat. It spreads mostly through coughing and sneezing.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, roughly 1 billion people suffer from the common cold each year in the United States.
Symptoms of common colds include sore throat, stuffy nose, swelling of the sinuses, sneezing, coughing, slight fever and frequent headaches.
Also, the body often becomes weak leading to decreased productivity, missed work, missed school and other problems. These symptoms can last between two and 14 days. However, most people recover fully within 10 days.
There is no known cure. Measures to fight cold symptoms range from home remedies to over-the-counter medicines. Certain superfoods also can help fight as well as prevent common colds.
Here are the top 10 superfoods that fight the common cold.
1. Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants as well as antiviral and antibacterial properties that help fight colds.
In particular, a group of antioxidants known as catechins have been shown to inhibit the activity of the common cold virus as well as certain influenza viruses. Also, green tea helps boost overall immunity and revives the metabolism rate.
Enjoy two or three cups of green tea daily to prevent or fight the common cold. You can add lemon and honey to enhance the taste, but avoid adding milk. When drinking the tea, try to inhale the steam also. It will help to reduce congestion and open up a blocked nose.
Garlic is well known for its strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and has been used for ages to fight the common cold and many of its symptoms. Plus, it contains allicin, a sulfuric compound that produces potent antioxidants and offers many medicinal benefits.
Also, garlic is one of best immune-boosting foods that help the body ward off and fight infections. A 2001 study published in the journal Advances in Therapy found that taking garlic supplements daily helps prevent colds.
- Eat one to two raw garlic cloves or add a few drops of garlic oil in your food and drinks regularly to prevent as well as fight common colds.
- If you have a cold, you can boil a few chopped garlic cloves in one cup of water. Remove from heat, and add one teaspoon of honey. Drink it two or three times a day until your cold is gone.
Oranges are full of vitamin C and can help deal with different types of viral infections, including the common cold. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost your immune system. It promotes the production of white blood cells that fight infections.
Drink one to two glasses of orange juice daily to prevent and fight infections and improve your immune system. Also, drinking orange juice will help keep your body well hydrated, which is very important for overall health.
A compound called quercetin present in blueberries can help reduce the likelihood of getting a cold. Also, blueberries are packed with various antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients like vitamin C that boost your immune system and help your body fight infections.
Frozen and fresh blueberries have equal nutrition, so you can use either to fight common colds.
In traditional Chinese medicine, mushrooms are often used to fight the common cold and other types of viral infections. Mushrooms increase the production of cytokines, which in turn help fight off infections. Plus, mushrooms contain polysaccharides that support the immune system.
Mushrooms are also known for their strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and contain many essential nutrients.
To fight a cold, your best choices of mushrooms are white button, portobello, shiitake and maitake. You can add mushrooms in stir fry or salads or enjoy a warm bowl of mushroom soup.
There are more than 10 trillion bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tracts that are essential for our overall health. It’s important to ensure that the good bacteria outnumber the bad. You can do this by including probiotic food like yogurt in your regular diet.
Also, yogurt boosts your immune system to help your body naturally fight off infections like the common cold. For maximum health benefits, buy yogurt with “live and active cultures”.
Eating one-half cup of yogurt daily can reduce the incidence of common colds and other viral infections. You can add fruits or nuts to your yogurt to make it tastier and healthier.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Being rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes also play a key role in preventing common colds. When consumed, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system and a well-functioning body.
Vitamin A also keeps the mucous membranes that line the nose and throat healthy and functioning properly. So if you do get a cold, symptoms will be mild and you will recover faster.
Eat one-half cup of boiled or roasted sweet potatoes on regular basis to improve your immune system and fight off common colds.
8. Brazil Nuts
These rich, creamy nuts are high in selenium, a mineral that improves the immune system and helps fight infections including common colds. Selenium also helps prevent cellular damage from free radicals by helping to form infection-fighting T-cells.
In addition, Brazil nuts contain minerals like zinc and iron as well as vitamin C that are essential for maintaining a strong immune system.
Just one or two Brazil nuts daily will provide your body with the required dose of selenium for preventing the common cold and flu.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc, a mineral that plays a key role in fighting off common colds. Zinc boosts the immune system and has an antimicrobial effect, so it helps kill the viruses that cause common colds. Foods rich in zinc can also help cut down the duration of common cold symptoms.
You can eat roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack or include them in salads, soups, yogurt or other meals.
10. Red Bell Pepper
Red bell peppers are packed full of nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that play a key role in maintaining a healthy body and strong immune system. They are also rich in vitamin C that helps boost the immune system and prevent common colds.
Red peppers can be eaten raw, roasted, fried, grilled or steamed. Just one cup of a raw red bell pepper will be more than sufficient to fullfil your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Make these superfoods a part of your daily diet to give your body its best defense against common colds. Also, remember that the best prevention is washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
Cold viruses primarily spread when your hands pick up a virus from an infected person or an object where viruses are present like doorknobs, and then you touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
Plus, drink plenty of fluids to help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. A good way to do this is to have hot chicken soup as it will speed up the movement of mucus and reduce congestion.