Now’s the time of year that we’re all more likely to be reaching for tissues and feeling grotty thanks to having caught a cold. As winter sets in, it’s par for the course to catch a cold at some point, and once you’ve got one, you know you’re in for a week or more of feeling blocked up and sniffly and having a sore throat.
There’s not much you can do about having a cold once you’ve got one; it’s something that you just have to let work through your system. But there are some foods that can make you feel better, and some that are even said to help you get over a cold more quickly.
Spice it up!
Eating spicy food has long been associated with chasing away a cold. Spices such as chilli stimulate the release of nasal fluids and tears, which can help clear the sinuses and wash away mucus.
There’s also the psychosomatic benefits of eating something like a Thai tom yum soup, when the spicy coconut milk feels very soothing on a sore throat. Of course, you might not feel much like cooking when your head is thick with a cold, but there’s nothing to stop you ordering spicy food from Deliveroo to be brought to you in your sick bed.
Garlic – it’s not just for keeping vampires away
When garlic is crushed or minced, allicin is released from it. Allicin is a substance that forms sulphur compounds that fight infections. Raw garlic is also said to boost the immune system as it has an anti-microbial effect. Crushed garlic can be added easily to almost any meal – unless you want to be brave and simply chew on some raw cloves of garlic.
Have a nightcap
It doesn’t mean that you need to wear one, though it may make you feel cosier at night! Instead, try a hot lemon and honey drink with a little whisky or brandy added to it – the traditional “hot toddy”. The honey will soothe your throat, the vitamin C from the lemon can improve the functioning of your immune system. And the alcohol can help to thin the mucus and act as a sedative, helping you get to sleep.
Remember the old adage, though, of everything in moderation and don’t have too much alcohol in your hot lemon drink. An excessive amount can make you dehydrated and negatively affect your sleep.
Water, water, everywhere
Talking about being dehydrated, one thing you shouldn’t forget when nursing a cold is to drink plenty of water. While it won’t necessarily give you any kind of comfort through taste like some of the foods mentioned above, it will help your recovery from a cold.
Fighting an infection causes your body to dehydrate, so you need to make sure you replace lost fluids by drinking lots of water throughout the day. Plain water may not be that interesting in terms of flavour, but it’s more effective for hydration purposes than soft drinks, as the sugar in them slows the body’s rate of absorption.
There have to be some upsides to having a cold. You may have to snivel and sniff all day long, but at least you can justify ordering spicy takeaway and eating some good old comfort food.