A bout against the common cold | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 23, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 23, 2018

A note on nutrition

A bout against the common cold

As the temperature continues to drop, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain a healthy body, although we can easily steer clear with minor changes in our diet, using only some fresh ingredients found in abundance during winter.

Steamy soup speeds up the movement of mucus and thins it out through the nose. It also raises the temperature around the nose and the throat, creating an inhospitable environment for germs. And the chicken, usually the meat of choice, provides protein to help restore and strengthen the immune system by inhibiting white blood cells called neutrophils that are released in huge numbers when we have a cold.

Vitamin C — the powerhouse nutrient, most commonly found in citrus fruits, is an antioxidant that can reduce cold symptoms. About 1 to 8 grams of the vitamin is sufficient to meet the body's demand, which can easily be obtained by consuming citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccolis, Brussels sprouts, papayas, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. True, high amounts of vitamin C can cause digestive problems, but such instances are very rare.

The other essential nutrient needed to fight against a cold is vitamin A. It, among other important functions, is responsible for maintaining the membranes' mucus that line our nose and throat.

Orange coloured fruits, and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in beta-carotene, essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

Warm tea can help with decongestion. All tea contains a group of antioxidants known as catechins, which may have flu-fighting properties. Oily sea fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids — compounds that help reduce harmful inflammation in the body.

Once turned chronic, inflammations prevent our immune system from working properly, and can contribute to colds and flu.

The pungent garlic cloves, when eaten raw, can have myriad benefits. It contains allicin, a potent antimicrobial that can fend off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Garlic packs the biggest antioxidant punch when eaten raw. If we chop garlic first and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking, its therapeutic compounds have a chance to form.

Ginger is a natural solution to reducing pain and fever, and is also a mild sedative. As it coats our throat, it's great at relieving sore-throats, and its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Cinnamon, coriander, and ginger promote sweating, and are often used to help break a fever.

Yoghurt — eating probiotic foods, such as yoghurt, is a good way to replenish beneficial strains of bacteria, which promote digestive health. Whether in food or supplemental form — it also lowers the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Lower vitamin D levels are associated with a greater risk of upper respiratory infections.

Germs responsible for cold and flues thrive in dried-out throats and nasal passages, but drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help keep the mucous membranes moist so that they are more able at trapping unwanted organisms in the area.

Hot water with a bit of honey (to coat your throat) and lemon (to shrink swollen throat tissues and help kill off virus cells), or adding honey and lemon to tea is helpful.

Sunflower seeds are the best natural sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cell walls from damage; a single one-ounce serving contains 30 percent of your recommended daily intake, which is especially important for the health of our lungs.

Oats contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan, known for its cholesterol-lowering and immune-boosting properties. It can also help prevent upper respiratory tract infection.

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