Foods that fight cold

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle - An­jali Muk­er­jee, nu­tri­tion­ist

It seems like al­most ev­ery­one in the city is suf­fer­ing from a cold. A cough, cold and in­fluenza are com­mon ail­ments, and reme­dies for th­ese have been handed down from grand­moth­ers and doc­tors alike. It is true that consumption of the right foods can help fight a cold bet­ter. For in­stance, chicken soup is a 12th cen­tury rem­edy for a cold, and came from em­i­nent physi­cians. Chicken con­tains a nat­u­ral amino acid called cys­te­nie, which is re­leased in the stock when soup is made. This amino acid acts like any other mu­coki­netic drug. It helps thin down the mu­cous in the lungs, making it eas­ier to ex­pel.

Cer­tain foods also help thin out and aid lung se­cre­tions, so that they do not clog air pas­sages. Then, it can be coughed up or nor­mally expelled. Such foods are re­ferred to as ‘mu­coki­netic’ (mu­cous-mov­ing) agents, and in­clude de­con­ges­tants and ex­pec­to­rants. Even pep­per and vine­gar work won­ders at re­liv­ing res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, ac­cord­ing to Hip­pocrates.

Dr Ze­ment, MD, a pro­fes­sor of medicine, be­lieves that some foods work by im­i­tat­ing medicines. The spicy agent in red-hot pep­per is cap­saicin which, ac­cord­ing to him, bears a re­sem­blance to the drug, guaife­n­esin. An­other chem­i­cal called allin, which is found in gar­lic, helps reg­u­late the mu­cous flow. So, what are the ideal cold-flu killers? The best decongesting foods are those that are hot and spicy.

When we eat such food, pun­gent flavour ac­ti­vates the va­gus nerve, which con­trols the se­cre­tion pro­duc­ing glands that line the air­ways. The glands then release waves of flu­ids that make your eyes wa­ter and your nose run. This breaks up con­ges­tion, flushes out si­nuses, and washes away the ir­ri­tants. For those with chronic bron­chi­tis, eat­ing hot and spicy food at least thrice a week could prove to be ben­e­fi­cial.

Onions and gar­lic also fall in mu­coki­netic foods cat­e­gory which means that they too help fight cold and flu virus. Avoid milk — hot or cold — dur­ing a flu at­tack.

Some hot tips for a cold

Eat onions and gar­lic ei­ther raw or in a soup form.

In­dulge in some steaming hot and spicy fish curry with rice

Sip hot wa­ter with a dash of fresh gin­ger juice through the day.

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