What to Drink to Help Fight a Cold Slideshow
October 19, 2011
Green or Black Tea
Rich in protective antioxidants called polyphenols, both green and black teas are a smart choice for those looking to ward off the common cold. Many also recommend having a spoonful of honey on the side because it has some anti-bacterial properties. "Raw honey has more impact than processed honey," explains nutritionist Kelly Aronica, noting that some studies have indeed shown that honey can be as effective as over-the-counter cough medicine for relieving coughs.
This alternative milk is a good source of protein, vitamin E, and zinc, which help keep the immune system strong (the latter in particular is crucial for normal immune cell development and growth). Not to mention, as Aronica reminds us, "Healthy fats are really important." For that reason, she also mentions coconut milk as a potential option for those trying to fight off a cold. Respected researcher Dr. Mary Enig notes that some research has shown that natural coconut fat in the diet can improve the anti-inflammatory response of your body's immune system.
Chicken Soup Broth
It seems as though this age-old remedy has been passed on from generation to generation with good reason — it works. Believed to help soothe cold symptoms because of its potential mucus-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties, Aronica also notes that the broth is a great thing to drink if you're sick because "all of the vitamins and some protein from the soup go into the broth."
Yet another reason to make sure you don't skimp on your daily water intake. While drinking water alone won't cure your cold, taking in fluids and staying hydrated is definitely an important part of keeping your system in top disease-fighting shape. Specifically, many say that warm lemon water can help relieve congestion, and that a salt water gargle (about a quarter of a teaspoon of salt dissolved in water) helps soothe a sore throat.
Orange, Grapefruit, and Other Vitamin C-Rich Juices
There is perhaps no more common association between a drink and cures for the cold than orange juice. And yet, Aronica explains that while vitamin C does play a role in fighting infection, most research has shown that it doesn't really prevent colds. That said, she acknowledges that, "Drinking a glass of juice a day when you feel a cold coming on might lessen the severity of symptoms. It's certainly an easy, inexpensive thing to try." Of course, fresh, all-natural, 100-percent juice is most preferable.
Whey Protein-Enhanced Juices and Smoothies
The amino acids in whey protein help muscle repair and development, and have been found to help boost the immune system. Aronica recommends adding whey protein to a smoothie or vegetable juice (particularly one made from leafy greens full of B vitamins), explaining that the extra protein will help your body fight off infection.
Many tout antioxidant-packed wheatgrass as a good option when trying to fight infection and treating cold symptoms like cough and fever. And certainly, it's a good source of vitamins A, C, and E as well as minerals like zinc, all of which are useful in giving your immune system a boost. Add a shot to a vitamin-rich fresh juice or smoothie if you're not a fan of the flavor on its own.
This one's a bit of a coin toss. Many people swear by the herb, but, as Aronica notes, "Science hasn't proven it really effective." While the quality of some echinacea supplements has been questioned, it might, like vitamin C, reduce the severity and length of illness if taken at the first sign of symptoms. Try adding a couple drops of an echinacea tincture to warm water or orange juice.