The debate about whether to starve a cold and feed a fever is obsolete; doctors recommend eating whenever you feel hungry. The following foods may be helpful and comforting.
Chicken soup. Grandma was right! Not only is it soothing and easy to digest, but chicken soup also contains cystine, a compound that helps thin the mucus, relieving the congestion.
Spicy foods. Hot chillies contain capsaicin, a substance that can help break up nasal and sinus congestion. Garlic, turmeric and other hot spices have a similar effect.
The effect of zinc on the common cold remains controversial. Some research shows that sucking on zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold may help cut the cold’s duration and/or severity. Taking zinc supplements over a prolonged period is not a good idea since getting more than 40 mg per day over a long period of time can actually weaken your immune system, making it less able to fight against disease. It is important to ensure that your diet contains zinc-rich foods since zinc is important to a healthy immune system. Food sources of zinc include seafood (especially oysters), red meat and poultry, yoghurt and other dairy products, wheat germ, wheat bran and whole grains.
When to see a doctor
Most colds and bouts of flu go away by themselves, but a doctor should be seen if you have:
• A cough that produces green, yellow or bloody phlegm.
• A severe headache or pain in the face, jaw or ear.
• Trouble swallowing or breathing.
• A fever over 37.8°C that lasts more than 48 hours.
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