Sunday, October 7, 2007

7 healing foods to fight colds and flu

How well protected are you against the common cold and flu? Even if you've had a flu jab, you need to wash your hands religiously and take vitamin C for extra insurance. You may even want to try the herb echinacea when you first start feeling grotty. Remember also that what you eat may help prevent or treat these common illnesses. Try the tasty ideas below, and you just may avoid getting sick this season.

Chicken soup
It’s been called nature’s penicillin and is at the top of the list for its curative powers. Hot chicken soup helps clear clogged airways, and the nourishing broth will give you more energy. Add plenty of vegetables, including onion and garlic, for extra healing power.
Hot and spicy food
Some people swear by garlic, horseradish, chillis or spicy sauces to help ease congestion. Cook Indian or other ethnic foods that contain these ingredients, or simply add a spicy sauce to foods for extra zip.

This fragrant bulb contains a flavoring agent called alliin which acts as a decongestant. Garlic is also believed to act as an antioxidant and destroy free-radicals, the active oxygen molecules that damage cells, so add garlic liberally to your favourite foods.

Stay hydrated with plenty of liquids. Instead of coffee, fizzy or sweetened drinks, have plenty of water and pure fruit juices. Hot beverages work better for some people, so consider chamomile or peppermint herbal tea, or sip on hot water with a slice of lemon.

Citrus fruits
Reach for citrus fruits to increase your vitamin C intake. Drink orange juice for breakfast, snack on half a grapefruit, or add tangerine slices to a lunchtime salad. Getting an increased amount of vitamin C is especially important if you smoke, as smoking increases both your risk of catching a cold and your body's need for this protective vitamin.

Vitamin C sources
Citrus fruits aren't the only foods high in vitamin C. Potatoes, green peppers, strawberries and pineapple can help as your daily cold-fighting food arsenal.
Many people find fresh ginger root helps treat the coughing and fever that often accompany colds and flu. Try making a ginger tea: Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
A daily routine of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods, skipped meals and lots of caffeine can make you more susceptible to minor illnesses like colds and flu. Instead, make sure you eat plenty of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and low-fat protein to keep your immune system strong. Think of nutritious foods as part of your cold-and-flu armour, and you'll be ready to do battle whenever illness strikes.

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