Chase away colds (and flu)

Good tastes chase away the colds

Since 2013 when I switched to a plant-based diet, I’ve found that I no longer get sick with an upper respiratory illness as often. As someone who suffers from asthma this is great news. (For people with asthma, illnesses like colds can quickly turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.)

Plant-based diets don’t eliminate illness; however, research has shown that most people who follow this style of healthy eating, aren’t sick as often. And when they do get sick, their illness tends to pass more quickly.

When we do get hit by a cold, we immediately take action. We focus on eating foods that help to boost our immune systems, and foods that shorten the duration of illnesses like colds.

I’m going to share my secrets with you, because I am confident they will help you too.

One of the first things I do when I’m feeling run down is make some healthful soup. In the old days I made chicken soup, which research has shown is helpful in fighting illness. My new go-to, however, is packed with even more health and doesn’t cause inflammation like chicken will do.

I didn’t even have to create my own recipe. Vegan Richa has an excellent one, that you can find by clicking here.

I did alter it a bit. If you make it my way, it is even more healthful. To do that, omit the oil (use water), add a cup of sliced mushrooms (any kind) and make sure to add some broccoli. I add red pepper flakes instead of the green chile and if I don’t have scallions, I just mince some red onion or shallot and spoon those into the soup just before serving.

(To see a video of the recipe being made, click here.)

In brief, here are six reasons why this soup (with my additions) is so healthful.

  1. Tumeric. This spice has been proven to help fight inflammation throughout your body, but add a tiny bit of black pepper to significantly increase turmeric levels in your blood stream (by up to 2,000 percent!).
  2. Garlic. This great food is a known anti-bacterial and has been found useful as a supplementary treatment for pneumonia.
  3. Ginger. In numerous research studies ginger has shown anti-inflammatory properties and is as good as leading medications for conditions such as nausea and migraine headache. Mix about a half a teaspoon of ground ginger in water, or eat some fresh ginger (like in the soup) to help fight inflammation.
  4. Soy. Soy products, including miso, tofu and soy sauce, have been associated with a reduced risk of respiratory symptoms and may reduce your risk of upper respiratory tract infection (or improve the one you’ve got started).
  5. Broccoli. The best thing you can do to boost your liver’s detoxifying enzymes, is to eat some broccoli. Broccoli produces more of the detoxifying compounds than any other plant in the world. As an added bonus, broccoli is high in zinc and vitamin C. (See notes following.)
  6. Mushrooms. This plant food has natural immunomodulators, which can help to regulate immune systems without side effects. In addition, mushrooms are a great source of zinc. (See notes following.)

In addition to eating some of the delicious miso soup, I make sure to increase my consumption of zinc. There is no need to take a supplement. I just make to eat lots of seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and flax. Other plant foods that are good sources of zinc include mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kale, legumes and whole grains.

Another great cold fighter is kiwi. Four kiwis a day have been proven to shorten the duration of a cold to about three days. When my husband complains of cold symptoms, I buy him a bunch of kiwi to eat.

Unfortunately, I am allergic to kiwi. However, I have determined (my own guess) that it’s the vitamin C in kiwi that makes the difference. And four kiwis have about 200 mg of vitamin C so I make sure to get the equivalent each day from other sources. About four oranges have that amount. Other great sources include bell peppers, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kumquat and broccoli.

Research has demonstrated that the beta glucans found in nutritional yeast help to prevent infections. In particular, one study found that eating about a spoonful of nutritional yeast a day reduced the recurrence of infections with the common cold by 25 percent. In addition, the study participants had fewer cold-related sleeping difficulties if they did get sick.

Tea has been shown to also help with upper respiratory disease. In one study, people were given a black tea gargle twice daily for five winter months. When tested for two influenza A viruses and ten influenza B viruses, the black tea gargle group showed a significant 25 percent reduction compared to controls.

In another study using a green tea gargle, participants had an 87 percent protection from getting the flu.

A third study in children, found that gargling with green tea appeared to lower the odds of illness by about a third.

So if you’re feeling run down or run over by a possible cold or flu virus, make some soup, sip some green tea, add more nutritional yeast and pumpkin or sunflower seeds to your green leafies, eat more kiwis or citrus, drink plenty of water and relax. You’ll be better faster than ever before.