Facts About Cold Foods

Growing up, our parents would give us a foods that are believed to help cure cold, or at least ease its symptoms. Dr. Rachel Johnson Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., of EatingWell.com puts these cold foods to the test to separate the "nationally valid" foods from the "mythically valid" ones.

Chicken soup

Chicken soup is the standard "cold" food. But Dr. Johnson has found that it has more to offer than just comfort. In one study, researchers measured nasal mucus velocity (runny nose) and nasal airflow resistance (stuffy nose) after volunteers drank cold water, hot water, or ate chicken soup.

The researchers found that among the three, chicken soup was the most effective at making noses run. This is considered a good thing because nasal secretions help get rid of pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Soup also aids in hydration, and raises the temperature of the airways, both of which are important for loosening nasal secretions.

Vitamin C

Dr. Johnson referred to a review of 29 studies which involved 11,000 participants. The reviewers of these studies found that vitamin C actually does not reduce the incidence of colds. However, doses of 200 mg or greater shortened the duration of colds by about 8 percent. Though 8 percent is not a significant difference, it was still a difference.

There was also a reduction in the number of days that students and employees took of from school or work, which indicates that vitamin C may help reduce a cold’s severity. The effectiveness of vitamin C however, seems to vary from person to person.

Vitamin D

Since colds tend to strike during winter, some researchers though that the lack of vitamin D (which sunshine provides) makes us more susceptible. One study found that a group of kids who took vitamin D supplements had fewer colds than another group that didn’t. Though further study is needed, it’s wise to take multivitamins that provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin D requirements.  


Just how effective zinc is against colds is yet to be determined. In one study, it was found that zinc lozenges shortened the durations of colds by one-half. Other studies however, found that they have no edge over a placebo.

If you want to try zinc lozenges, Dr. Johnson recommends following the protocol used in scientific studies: "take the lozenges every two hours and stop when your symptoms die down." Do not think that more is better. Excessive doses of zinc can hamper mineral absorption, and high doses can be toxic.

Dairy products

The link between dairy products and colds needs further research. According to Dr. Johnson, there may be a placebo effect at work. People who say that they believe that milk causes more mucus production are apt to report more respiratory symptoms after they’ve been given milk.

However, in a blind test that used a soy-based drink with the same "sensory characteristics" as milk, subjects reported the same mucus production changes as they did with cow’s milk. Dr. Johnson advises against skipping calcium-milk or other dairy products, especially not yogurt, which contains good bacteria that may boost the immune system.

Source: MSN Health


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