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Add These Foods to Your Diet to Prevent Colds

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Do you know what the most common infectious disease in the United States is? Is it the flu, stomach viruses, or maybe even chickenpox? If you guessed colds, then you are correct! Cold viruses are the most common infection in almost all of the countries in the world. Luckily, if you eat these foods, your chances of developing a cold that leaves you in bed for days or with a cough for weeks drops significantly. Read on to learn how you can protect yourself from cold viruses!

Colds are not one single virus, but rather, cold symptoms are caused by hundreds of viruses, which is what makes keeping colds at bay so tricky. All colds are viral, which makes them even harder to fight as antibiotics will not work to kill colds.

Even worse, most colds are spread through hand-to-hand contact or by touching contaminated surfaces, which makes them even harder to get rid of. A cold virus can live up to seven days outside of the body, which means the virus can remain alive for a week after symptoms cease.

Even though there isn’t much you can do to cure a cold once you get it, there are many things you can do that will reduce your chances of getting a cold or shorten the duration if you do get sick.

The Number One Way to Prevent Colds

Did you know that eating healthy is not the best way to prevent colds from spreading? In fact, the best way to keep yourself from getting sick at any time of year is to keep your hands washed and out of your mouth. Studies show that individuals who wash their hands often, such as before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom, and after entering the house are much less likely to get sick.

Frequent hand washing is still the best preventive method to reduce your chances of catching a cold. Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth also helps.

A Strong Immune System Key for Cold Prevention

Washing your hands will help you prevent colds, but hand washing will still do nothing to reduce the severity of a cold. To reduce the severity of colds and to lower your risk altogether, a strong immune system is essential. So, what can you do to improve your immune system and prevent colds? The following foods have been shown to increase your chances of fighting off colds and reducing the severity of infections if you do get sick. If you want to stay healthy this year, add these foods to your diet regularly:

Eat More Tuna

Tuna and other fatty fish contain glutamine, which is an amino acid that can boost the immune system. According to research, glutamine is an essential part of the immune system that can fight off colds and other minor illnesses.

A 2001 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that glutamine is “conditionally essential” when the body is fighting inflammation and infection. The immune system uses amino acids to fight invaders and keep you healthy. By adding tuna and other glutamine-containing foods to the diet several times a week, you can boost your immune system and fight off colds year-round.

Where to Find Glutamine
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Dairy
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Beans

Vitamin C Rich Foods

We all know that vitamin C can help prevent colds. Vitamin C is the original superfood and health food that everyone went crazy over. Of course, now we know that drinking orange juice daily is not enough to prevent colds, but vitamin C is found in numerous foods. Adding these foods to your diet can help significantly reduce your risk of catching a cold and help you fight it off faster.

In 2013, a review of over 11,000 cases of cold viruses conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that vitamin C had a “modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms.”

Where to Find Vitamin C
  • Kiwi
  • Citrus fruit
  • Red bell peppers
  • Papaya
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli

Chicken Soup

The classic remedy for colds is chicken soup. Surprisingly enough, scientific evidence backs the usefulness and health-boosting power of chicken soup for healing colds. In 2000, a study published in the journal Chest found that chicken soup had medicinal properties in its ability to fight off colds.

Chicken soup provides some of the following benefits (the benefits are even greater if you use organic vegetables and bone broth):

  • Boosts the body’s absorption of magnesium, silicon, sulfur, and phosphorous.
  • Reduces joint pain and inflammation.
  • Boosts the immune system with anti-inflammatory amino acids.
  • Shortens the duration of the cold.
  • Mitigates infection.
  • It makes it easier to remove mucus.
  • Spices added to chicken soup will make mucous easier to expel. If pepper is added, it offers mild pain-relieving benefits.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are no longer a part of our daily diets, but in previous generations, fermented foods were always a large part of most traditional diets. Recent research has suggested that fermented foods provide many advantages and benefits over fresh foods, which may even be able to help fight off minor infections like colds.

In 2014, researchers from Cambridge University studied the effects of fermented foods on individuals over a period of several weeks. The researchers found that when individuals had a diet high in fermented foods, such as pickled cabbage, cheese, and yogurt their immune systems are stronger.

Research suggests that up to 80 percent of our immune system is controlled by the gut, and the right balance of bacteria there regulates our health. This suggests that eating fermented foods can help you fight off those pesky colds.


Garlic is not just for flavoring foods. It has amazing health benefits. Garlic can help control inflammation, fight bacterial and viral infections, and even kill fungus. A study from 2014 published in The Cochrane Library studied the effects of garlic supplements on a person’s chances of developing colds over a period of several months. At the end of the study, it was found that garlic supplements significantly reduced the chances of someone catching a cold, but it was not able to shorten the duration of colds.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the immune system vitamin. Without vitamin D, our immune systems struggle to keep colds at bay. The lower you are in vitamin D, the more likely you will catch a cold. Vitamin D can produce around 300 peptides that kill fungi, viruses, and bacteria.

A study from 2009 published in JAMA Internal Medicine of over 19,000 adults found that individuals who had the lowest levels of vitamin D had the most cases of colds throughout the year. Other than going outside as much as possible during the day, you can also eat these foods which contain vitamin D:

Vitamin D Foods 
  • Cod liver oil
  • Fatty fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Caviar
  • Grassfed dairy
  • Pork
  • Eggs

Other Simple Ways to Prevent Colds

Other than the nutrients listed above, you can help prevent colds and help them heal faster in the following ways:

Reduce Stress

We’ve known for years that constant stress makes someone more likely to get sick, but it wasn’t until recently that we knew why. A study from 2012 examined just what makes it more likely that you catch colds when stressed. The study authors stated, “Stressed people's immune cells become less sensitive to cortisol. They're unable to regulate the inflammatory response, and therefore, when they're exposed to a virus, they're more likely to develop a cold." If you want to keep colds away, reduce your stress as much as possible.

Avoid Sugar

Excess sugar is bad for the body any time, but it may be even worse when you are fighting a cold. Sugar is fuel for the body, but if you do not get nutrients along with the sugar, then you’re body will basically be running without fuel. This will make it more likely that your immune system cannot prevent colds and you will get sick more often and stay sick longer. Exchange sugary foods with vegetables and fruit and you will stay healthier, longer.


Several supplements can help keep colds at bay. Add these supplements to your routine during the fall and winter to keep your body prepared to fight any invaders during cold and flu season. Zinc has been scientifically proven to shorten the duration of colds. It is safe to take up to 50 mg of zinc a day if you have no other health conditions.


Curcumin is an extract of turmeric that is anti-inflammatory and can help boost the immune system throughout the year. Oregano Oil Oregano oil is antibacterial and antiviral. When used both externally and internally, oregano oil can help prevent colds and get rid of them faster.


Elderberry is highly effective at reducing the duration of colds and flu. The University of Maryland states that elderberry reduces congestion and encourages sweating. When taken several days during the flu, it was able to reduce the duration by three days.

Getting Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is detrimental to the immune system. According to Web MD, sleep is necessary to reduce stress levels, regulate hormones, and boost the immune system. According to sleep expert Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, inflammation can make you more likely to catch a cold and getting enough sleep is essential to fighting inflammation.

“A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,” Balachandran says. “And inflammatory cytokines go up. ... This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu,” he told Web MD. Whatever the underlying reason, experts agree that sleep is essential to fighting off colds. An average of between eight and nine hours a night is optimal for most adults.

Diet is a Large Part of Cold Prevention

Whether you are trying to prevent colds or shorten their duration, diet plays a big role. Certain nutrients are absolutely essential to fighting colds and other minor infections. If you take steps throughout the year to eat a nutrient-rich diet, then you are much less likely to get sick. Sleep, de-stressing, and handwashing also go a long way toward preventing cold and flu viruses. Take action now to prevent colds from attacking later. You won’t regret it.




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