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Get rid of colds and flu with food

Siski Green / 17 February 2015

There are nutrients in foods that can speed recovery from both colds and flu. Find out which foods will help you to recover as quickly as possible.

Jar of honey
Honey is soothing for your throat and has anti-bacterial properties

1. The benefits of tea

A cuppa will soothe your nerves and also may help you fight off viruses. A Harvard University study found that people who drank five cups of the stuff had ten times more anti-viral proteins in their bloodstream than those who drank a different non-tea hot drink. It also ensures you’re getting lots of fluids, which is key to staving off all illnesses.

Find out more about the health properties of tea and coffee with our guide

2. The medicinal value of garlic

It wards off vampires and colds and flu, too. It’s all down to allicin a substance in both garlic and onions which helps fight viruses and bacteria too.

3. How kale helps you fight colds and flu

This green leaf is packed with antioxidants, helping to give your immune system a boost. Add it to chicken soup, see below, for a truly health-boosting dish.

4. The antibacterial qualities of honey

It’s antibacterial and very soothing if you’ve got a sore throat. Go for a honey such as manuka for added antibacterial properties and add it to to tea, see above, or porridge, see below, or just eat a spoonful on its own.

Find out more about the health properties of honey

5. Rest up with porridge oats

A bowl of porridge will provide you with slow-release energy for the day, ideal if you want lots of rest without having to get up to make food, but oats also contain antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Find inspiring porridge recipes

6. Vitamin C rich foods are a boost

Vitamin C hasn’t been shown to prevent colds but it does seem to shorten the duration of illness. What’s more, an orange provides you with valuable liquid while you’re sick and the fresh scent and flavour will help make you feel perkier when you’re ill.

Find out more about the health properties of Vitamin C with our vitamins and minerals guide

7. How chicken soup helps your body fight infection

Your grandma was right, there’s nothing quite like chicken soup to get you back on your feet. One study from the University of Nebraska assessed the effects of various brands of chicken soup and found that they blocked the movement of inflammatory white blood cells. This means that some of the symptoms of a cold such as coughing and phlegm, for example, are alleviated.

8. Yogurt and your immune system

It may not be the first thing you intuitively reach for when you’re hit with a cold, but live bacteria in yogurt help boost your immune system and an Austrian study found that 200ml of yogurt effectively boosted immunity. Just be aware that in some people dairy products can exacerbate symptoms such as runny nose and catarrh.

Ten ways to boost your immune system


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.