While the hope is always to prevent illness, eating the right foods when you do get struck down can help you to overcome the dreaded cold more quickly

When you’re sick, the last thing on your mind is healthy eating, but a proper diet is essential to kicking a cold in the butt.

“Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard are full of antioxidants and will keep you feeling energized,” says Vancouver-based registered dietitian Crystal Higgins.

“The most important thing to consider is overall balance,” she tells Wellness Matters. “Rather than focusing on individual vitamins, the focus should be on overall meal balance and eating whole, nutrient-dense foods.” 

“The age-old chicken soup has some evidence to back up its efficacy in cold fighting,” adds Lindsay Jang, a registered dietitian serving Vancouver and North Vancouver.

“The hot fluid helps with hydration and soothing sore throat symptoms,” she tells Wellness Matters. “The protein helps boost your immune system, and if [the soup] is packed with veggies, these can give you the extra immune-boosting help of vitamin C and antioxidants.”

The body’s immune system is a network of cells, organs and tissues that work to fight off foreign viruses and pathogens. When the body senses a virus or infection, white blood cells react by attacking it, causing inflammation, which leads to many of the cold symptoms with which we’re most familiar.


Immune System Boosters

For an extra boost to your immune system this cold season, try incorporating these superfoods into your regular diet:

  • Vitamin C: oranges, strawberries, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes
  • Zinc: lean meat, poultry, seafood, whole grains, beans and nuts
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds
  • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
  • Anti-inflammatories (and antioxidants): ginger, turmeric and garlic