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 Cold/Flu  Holistic-online.com

Nutrition and Diet for Cold

Good nutrition is essential for resisting and recovering from a cold.

Take plenty of fluids to flush toxic by-products out of the body as quickly and efficiently as possible. The ideal liquids are water and fresh fruit juice. Avoid drinks that have diuretic (fluid-eliminating) properties, such as tea and coffee. 

Avoid milk and other dairy products. At least one study has shown that a compound in milk triggers the release of histamine, a chemical that contributes to runny nose and nasal congestion which can make chest, sinus, and nasal congestion worse. 

Avoid alcoholic drinks, as these are dehydrating. It depletes the body of vitamin C, and puts extra strain on the liver, which has to work extra hard to detoxify the body during illness.

If your appetite is reduced don't feel obliged to eat, as long as you drink plenty. Foods should be as light and easily digestible as possible, with a strong emphasis on vegetable soups, broths, salads and lightly cooked fish or chicken. 

Avoid high-fat, indigestible foods such as cheese, red meat and pastries.

Eat a balanced diet. Take supplements as needed to ensure you are receiving the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin A, the vitamin B complex (vitamins Bl, B2, Bs, B6, folic acid), and vitamin C, as well as the minerals zinc and copper.

Grapefruit is a great food for fighting a cold. It is high in vitamin C. It also helps detoxify the liver. The liver is your front line to the immune system, and when immunity is impaired, you need something that’s alkaline and not acidic to detoxify it. All citrus fruits become alkaline when metabolized in the body. But oranges and other citrus fruits are too sweet to promote proper liver drainage, so you get much better detoxification from grapefruit. Experts recommend eating one or more grapefruit and their white bitter pulp each day to prevent colds and to build immunity.

Caution: Grapefruit may interact with several prescription medications such as cholesterol lowering drugs, psychiatric medications, antihistamines, etc. (eg., lipitor). Consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that it is ok to take grape fruit if you are taking any prescription medications. Read more about grapefruit interaction here.

Vitamin C

There is controversy as to whether Vitamin C helps prevent cold. Nobel laureate Linus Pauling supported Vitamin C for the Common Cold in 1970. Some studies have since shown that the nutrient helps. Others have concluded that vitamin C doesn't help fight colds at all.

There are some reasons to believe that some of these studies were seriously flawed. To be beneficial, it is important that a minimum dosage of Vitamin C be used. Many of the studies that showed no benefits for Vitamin C may have used too little vitamin C for too short a time.

In the studies that showed benefits, the participants took at least 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day from the first time symptoms of cold appeared until the cold completely cleared up. Proponents of Vitamin C recommends a dose of 5,000 milligrams or more a day. One of the major problems when you use this mega vitamin doses is that you may suffer from diarrhea. To avoid diarrhea, use calcium ascorbate powder. Calcium ascorbate is the form of vitamin C that's least irritating to the digestive tract and least likely to cause diarrhea. Commercially, it is available as Ester C. Take 1 teaspoon, mixed in juice, four times a day.

Anyone who suffers from kidney stones should avoid using vitamin C supplements for extended periods. Most kidney stones are made of calcium salts, but anyone who suffers from rarer oxalic acid-type kidney stones should be extremely cautious in their use of vitamin C. 

If your diet is deficient in zinc, your body could be low in neutrophils, and you're susceptible contract all types of infections, including colds. In a research study to test the effectiveness of zinc lozenges in treating cold, the researchers found that cold-infected volunteers who schewed on a 23-milligram zinc gluconate lozenge every 2 hours had significantly shorter colds than cold-infected volunteers who sucked on a placebo. Other research has shown that lozenges made only with either zinc gluconate-glycine or zinc acetate shorten the duration of cold symptoms.

Zinc works best if you start sucking on lozenges at the first sign of a tickle in your throat. Take one lozenge every 2 hours until your symptoms subside, unless the lozenges give you an upset stomach. In that case, use them as often as you comfortably can. Don't use the lozenges longer than one week. Zinc can suppress the immune system is used for an extended period of time. There is also some studies that show that zinc may be a contributor of Alzheimer's disease.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup, also known as "Jewish penicillin," has been a mainstay of folk medicine for 800 years, ever since the Egyptian physician Moses Maimonides recommended it as a cold remedy: And it really works, as many modern studies have shown. Researchers suspect that the soup's cold-fighting powers come not from the chicken but from the vegetables that are usually part of the stock. Soup is found to reduce cold symptoms, especially congestion.

Incorporate more mushrooms into your diet

Oriental mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi contain compounds that bolster your immune system. So by eating these types of mushrooms, you're better able to fight off a cold. 

Spicy Food

Any food spicy enough to make your eyes watery will have the same effect on your nose, promoting drainage. If you feel like eating, a hot, spicy choice will help your body fight your cold. Break up congestion with a bowl of chili or other spicy foods containing horseradish, hot pepper sauce, hot mustard or curry. Hot Mexican or Indian foods are good congestion busters.

Drink lots of hot fluids

Cold viruses grow and multiply fast when the temperature around them is around 90°F. However, they are far less comfortable-and less likely to replicate so quickly-when their environment heats up. Drink some hot fluids. This will warm your throat. That should impair viral replication. As a bonus, hot fluids have a mild decongestant effect, which helps relieve nasal stuffiness. Taking herbal drink such as ginger tea is doubly helpful because of their heating effect as well as the antiviral effect.

Avoid sweets

Neutrophils are a special type of white blood cell that engulf and destroy cold viruses and other foreign invaders. Neutrophils become lethargic when you eat sweets. So, it is a good idea to stay away from sweets when you have cold as well as as a preventive strategy during the cold season.

 In one study, researchers had volunteers consume 100 grams of sugar, the equivalent of two cans of soda. Then they took blood samples from the volunteers. They found that neutrophil activity in the volunteers had plummeted by 50 percent after consuming the sugar. Five hours later, neutrophil activity still remained substantially below normal.

Anything that contains any form of sugar-including sucrose, fructose, and corn syrup -- can impair neutrophil activity: The worst offenders are candy and sweets, which are almost pure sugar and have virtually no nutritional value.

Other Nutritional Supplements for Cold

Vitamin A is a nutrient vital to the mucous membranes throughout the respiratory system during a cold or flu. It can be taken in the form of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in higher dosages.

The amino acid lysine has antiviral properties. Take 500 milligrams of L-lysine three to four times daily for up to one week.

Pantothenic acid supports adrenal function, which is often compromised when you have a cold. It also helps to minimize nasal congestion and fatigue. Take 250 milligrams three times daily for up to one week.

Bioflavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties and help to ease the course of a cold. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams every hour for up to eight hours at the first sign of a cold.

Recommended Supplements and Dosage

A person with a cold may want to use the following vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements to help shorten the duration of the cold and reduce the severity of symptoms:

• Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg every few hours throughout the day, up to bowel tolerance.

• Zinc lozenges, with 3 mg copper, every few hours, up to 70 mg daily during a cold and 30 mg daily as a preventive.

• Garlic, 2 capsules three times daily

• Vitamin A, 25,000 IU daily ( up to 50,000 international units of vitamin A three times a day for no more than five days. )(avoid taking Vita in A supplements during pregnancy)

• 2 capsules of echinacea three times a day (or, as a tincture, 15 drops four times a day)

• 15 drops of lomatium tincture three times a day.

For a sore throat, take one zinc lozenge dissolved in the mouth every two to three hours or as needed.

To clear up nasal congestion, use steam inhalation adding eucalyptus oil to the water.

See Also:

Nutrition for Flu

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