Congestion, often accompanied by sinus pressure, is a symptom of many illnesses — allergies, a cold, and the flu, to name a few. According to WebMD, congestion stems from inflammation and irritation in the membranes lining the nasal passages, which then produce an excess of mucus. Keeping nasal passages moist helps membranes recover: humidifiers, steamy showers, consumption of fluids, and nasal saline sprays can all assist in easing irritation.
That said, according to Colorado-based nutritionist and health coach Krista Stover, “it is vital to get to the root cause of why you are congested” so that you can treat the illness, instead of just the symptoms. Stover says a balanced diet is the best line of defense against infections of the sinuses and recommends the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods to help decrease symptoms once they start.
Inflammation plays a large part in the misery accompanying congestion. The worst symptoms can be attributed to inflamed membranes: sinus pressure stems from inflamed sinus tissues, for instance, and repetitive blowing of the nose results in inflamed skin around the area. Acute inflammation in the body may promote illnesses such heartburn, arthritis, and asthma. Several foods possess natural anti-inflammatory elements: whole grains, leafy greens, and nuts are a good addition to a regular, balanced diet. While getting your airways open to drain excess fluid will help you breathe easier, relieve pressure, and naturally rid the body of some bacteria, treating the symptoms of congestion isn’t quite enough. Recipes that incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients with congestion-busting ingredients are ideal for when a cold comes knocking at your door — they offer a one-two punch of relief that targets both cause and symptom. And, as always, avoiding processed foods in favor of whole foods and freshly made dishes is essential to boosting the immune system and easing suffering when sick.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Turmeric
While this concoction, recommended by nurse, author, and healthcare advocate Michelle Katz, is actually a gargle instead of a drink, she reports that it breaks down the mucus in airways, clears chest congestion, and soothes a sore throat. Certified Chinese nutritionist Neka Pasquale also supports the use of turmeric, as it has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Pair one half tablespoon turmeric with one-half cup apple cider vinegar and gargle for as long as you can.
Chicken Noodle Soup
As if grandmothers the world over weren’t expert enough, in 2007 The New York Times reported that chicken soup has proven to be effective against colds. According to studies published in the medical journal Chest, the hot fluids increase the flow of nasal fluids and improve the function of cilia, the tiny, hair-like protuberances that help move mucus and bacteria out of the nose, thus helping to break down congestion.