A team headed by lung specialist Stephen Rennard at the Nebraska Medical Center found that in a test tube chicken soup suppressed inflammation, which causes many cold symptoms. But chicken soup isn’t the only food that might help heal you from the inside out. Here’s a daily menu based on experts’ recommendations.
- Orange juice or half a grapefruit. Both are great sources of vitamin C, which could shorten the duration of colds.
- Whole-grain cereal or bread. Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals, including zinc and vitamin E, which can help keep your immune system healthy.
- Black tea. Real tea leaves (not herbal) have substances that speed the action of cilia, the tiny hairlike cells lining your nasal passages, helping them expel germs.
- Yogurt. It can help you maintain a healthy immune system, as long as it contains beneficial bacteria. One cup of yogurt with live active cultures or a glass of kefir a day provides all you need.
- Chicken soup. The Nebraska researchers used a traditional recipe they called “Grandma’s Soup,” which had veggies like onions, parsnips, and carrots, along with chicken. But most of the commercial varieties they tested reduced inflammation, too. For even more protection, add a clove or two of garlic.
- Anise-seed cookie. Anise seeds, with their licorice-like flavor, have been found to help break up congestion.
- Salad of bitter greens. Watercress and arugula can make a salad special—and research shows they may also have antiviral effects. Bitter greens are especially helpful in relieving chest congestion, sniffles, and coughs.
- Pasta with tomato sauce and plenty of garlic. Because the pungent bulb is one of the most potent disease-fighting foods around, it’s worth having at least two servings a day. Raw garlic has the most benefits, but cooked garlic also packs a punch.
- Ginger tea. It’s different and refreshing—and, Duke says, “ginger is loaded with virus-fighting substances, including several that act directly against cold viruses.” (One substance, gingerol, can suppress coughing.) Boil water; then steep a tablespoon of fresh shredded ginger for 2 or 3 minutes.