Feed a Cold—Avoid Getting Sick During the Holidays

Can a breakfast cereal boost your immunity? Are you wasting your money on vitamin drinks? People have always looked to food as medicine. This cold and flu season, I decided to look into the beliefs long held by my mom and many others to see which are nutritionally valid and which are merely folklore and found these 3 immunity boosters.

3 immune-boosting foods to get you through winter

Sip Chicken Soup

It turns out there is something to chicken soup after all. In one study, researchers measured nasal mucus velocity (science-speak for “runny nose”) and nasal airflow resistance (stuffy nose) after volunteers drank cold water, hot water or chicken soup. Of the three, hot chicken soup was the most effective at making noses run—a good thing since nasal secretions help rid the body of pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Like any hot liquid, soup also helps hydration and raises the temperature of the airways, both important for loosening secretions. Adding a few hot chiles might help loosen things up even more.

Try Vitamin C

Ever since biochemist Linus Pauling proposed megadoses of vitamin C to stave off cold symptoms, research has been piling up to assess its effectiveness. For perspective, I turned to a well-regarded review of 29 studies that involved more than 11,000 participants. The reviewers found that vitamin C failed to reduce the incidence of colds. But overall, with doses of 200 mg or greater (more than twice the 60-75 mg current recommended dietary intake for adults), the duration of colds was shortened by about 8 percent—not a huge difference, but something. There was also a significant reduction in the number of days subjects took off from work or school, which suggests vitamin C might help reduce a cold’s severity. The likelihood of success seems to vary with the person—some people improve after taking vitamin C supplements, others don’t. Try it and see for yourself but don’t exceed 2,000 milligrams per day. More than this can cause an upset stomach.

Think Before You Zinc

Zinc’s effectiveness against cold symptoms is more controversial. One study found that zinc lozenges shortened the duration of colds by one-half, while others found no advantage over a placebo. If you want to try zinc lozenges, follow the protocol used in scientific studies: take the lozenges every two hours and stop when your symptoms die down. Don’t assume more is better; excessive doses of zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, and high doses can be toxic.

Get a Dose of Vitamin D

Since colds and flu tend to strike during the darker winter months, some researchers believe a lack of vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, might have something to do with making us more susceptible. At least one study found that a group of kids who took vitamin D supplements had fewer colds than another group that didn’t. There’s still much to learn, but unless you get steady exposure to the sun in the winter it seems prudent to take a multivitamin that contains 100 percent of the daily value for vitamin D.

Today, I wonder if my mother would have given me something else to wash down with my ginger ale (maybe vitamin C?). I do know that she made me feel loved and cared for, and that did wonders for my prognosis.

And without a doubt the chicken soup helped.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill

10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles, (3 cups)
4 cups shredded cooked skinless chicken breast, (about 1 pound; see Tip)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste


Bring broth to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, ginger and garlic; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Add noodles and chicken; simmer until the noodles are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in dill and lemon juice.

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Tip: Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan and add lightly salted water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes.


Per serving: 267 calories; 4 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 90 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 38 g protein; 2 g fiber; 329 mg sodium; 330 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (104% daily value).

Vitamin C Rich Foods

Most fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. Fruits that are good sources include cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, papaya and strawberries. Rich vegetable sources include dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and red peppers.
For Healthy Vitamin C Rich Recipes…
http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_hea … ch_recipes

healthy immunity recipes

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This unusual lasagna with portobello mushrooms, sweet onions, spinach and…
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6 Speedy Soups

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto…  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chick … _soup.html

Ravioli & Vegetable Soup…  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/ravio … _soup.html

Salmon Chowder…  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/salmon_chowder.html

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque… http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/sweet … isque.html

Healthy Soup and Bread Recipes and Cooking Tips…  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/ … up_recipes

Healthy Creamy Soups… http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooki … eamy_soups

“Get well, get well soon, we want you to get well… Get well, get well soon…” ~ Elaine, from Seinfeld


~ by thetotaleffect on December 21, 2010.

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