First of all, literally "starving" your cold is never the solution. You will likely experience a lack of appetite as a symptom of a cold, however, so follow your body’s cues and only eat as much as is comfortable. Consuming adequate calories to keep your body functioning properly is essential for helping your immune system fight infection, but overeating will do your body no good. Nutrient dense, well-balanced eating will not only help your body fight illness but will help prevent illness, as well. So rather than starve your cold, it’s best to feed it correctly.
What to eat
Protein is one of our bodies’ building blocks for creating and repairing cells and body tissue. It is also important for preventing fatigue and weakness and keeping our immune system functioning properly.
Suggestions: Soy milk, edemame, red meat, chicken, egg whites
These nutrients are essential for keeping our bodies functioning properly and are considered to be helpful in our bodies’ defense systems. They work against free radicals, the substances that damage our cell structure and make us susceptible to illness. The most common antioxidants in the foods we eat are carotenoids like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. One of the best ways to up your antioxidant intake is to eat plenty of raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables.
Suggestions: Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, orange juice, beets, cantaloupe, asparagus, collard greens, grapefruit and other citrus, sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, papaya, fish oils, sunflower seeds, peanut or almond butter, salmon, kale
Another immune system boosting nutrient, this is actually a type of antioxidant, which is useful in fighting infections.
Suggestions: Cauliflower, spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli
Consuming sufficient calcium can actually be very important for fighting off a cold or preventing infection because of the way in which calcium alters the pH of our bodies. Increased calcium consumption results in a more alkaline environment that is inhospitable to viruses and disease causing bacteria.
Suggestions: Milk, yogurt, cheese, any fortified foods like orange juice or bread
An immune system booster with antioxidant properties, zinc is found in all sorts of cold medicines on the market, and in foods we eat every day. Try to at least meet your daily allowance of zinc each day, especially when you are fighting a cold.
Suggestions: Whole grains, meat, nuts, seafood, seeds, eggs
Aside from its beneficial calcium content, yogurt is also believed to be helpful in preventing or fighting colds because of the pro-bacteria it contains. These good bacteria are thought to help promote immune function.
The benefits of eating chicken soup extend well beyond the psychological comfort it provides. Consuming hot liquids like soup and tea can be highly effective in helping relieve congested sinuses. Chicken soup also tends to contain important amino acids that can help reduce inflammation of breathing passages. The warmth and the salinity of chicken soup also helps keep mucus thinned out, helping you to expel in more easily. Perhaps most important, however, is the way in which eating chicken soup helps keep you hydrated.
If you’re especially sensitive to spicy foods, this may not be your best bet, but if you have a reasonable tolerance, then try eating spicy foods or adding cayenne pepper to hot water with honey and cinnamon. This will help clear sinuses and reduce nasal congestion.
What not to eat
While it’s not a good idea to starve a cold, there are certain foods and drinks you should try to avoid:
Sugary drinks and snacks