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Foods to Fight the Common Cold

It is usually when we are working hard to finish deadlines and preparing hard for a presentation when the common cold virus hits us without warning. It is like a thief in the night waiting for us to lower our guard before it strikes. It is when we’re the weakest when we are most susceptible for the viral attack.

When we are cramming for exams and pressured to finish our work, it is most possibly the time when we lack sleep and get stressed out. This is the perfect Tsunami which batters and weakens our immune system allowing the cold virus to attack our body. When it hits us, it’s usually too late and we can just say goodbye to whatever we are planning for the next couple of days.

These days, the common cold is also causing a common fear. It’s because the early symptoms of the common cold are the same as influenza-like illnesses. With the Swine Flu scare still in the air, the possibility often crosses our mind. You don’t have to worry that much if you know the difference between the symptoms.

Since the common cold is caused by a viral agent, we will just have to wait for our body’s immune system to battle it out with the invaders. There still is no known approved cure for the common cold until now. All we can do is assist our immune system to fight back and defeat the enemy. The key therefore in finding how to fight common cold is to find out which food strengthens our immune system.

Vitamin C is an important immune system nutrient and also a destroyer of our body’s free radicals. There are many fruits which are rich in vitamin C. Guavas and strawberries two of the richest source of vitamin C. Grapefruit and oranges are also good sources which are readily available.

Although there are vegetables rich in vitamin C like tomatoes okra and peppers, they are easily destroyed with heat during cooking. It is always a good thing to remember to eat vitamin C rich food raw and therefore to drink your lemonade cold.

Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies which destroy harmful bacteria. Fruits like papaya, blueberries (which is also considered a superfood) and kiwifruit are good sources of vitamin E.

These vegetables have very high levels of vitamin E: mustard greens, spinach, raw sunflower seeds, turnips and Swiss chard. You can also get it from dry roasted almonds which is also a great snack item.

Beta-carotene is the best known of the carotenoids, which belongs to the phytochemical family. It aids our immune system by increasing the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T-cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals that can also accelerate aging.

The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A; which in itself has anticancer properties and immune-boosting functions. But too much vitamin A can be toxic to the body, so it’s better to get extra beta carotene from foods and let the body naturally regulate how much of this precursor is converted to the immune-fighting vitamin A.

Beta-carotene is found in high levels in these vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, turnip green, spinach, Broccoli and many more. Cantaloupe is also a good source of vitamin C and makes an excellent dessert.

Zinc is valuable micromineral in the production of white blood cells which fight infection. Many of these immune cells need zinc for optimum function. Zinc helps increase the number of infection-fighting T-cells especially for the elderly and babies on the other hand, which are most often found to be deficient in zinc.

Oysters, mushrooms and spinach are great sources of zinc. Meat products like beef tenderloin, lamb loin and venison have high zinc levels in them.

Which brings us to now to the good old question of the chicken soup, Is it really a wonder cure for the common cold? Is it in the soup or in the chicken? Apparently, steam from hot water has the same effect compared to chicken soup in alleviating nasal secretions. Chicken is found to have an amino acid called cysteine which is similar to a drug called acetylcysteine. It is therefore this mucolytic property in chicken which helps alleviate nasal congestion. We also experience this decongestant effect through eating hot and spicy food which results to runny nose. The chicken has only got minimal amount of these immune system boosters as compared to some other ingredients. So why not make the potion more potent by adding mushrooms, spices, vegetables like carrots and tomatoes? You can mix and match according to your taste. Then you will have chicken soup with plenty more immune boosting ingredients.