Kicking A Cold: My Favorite Flu-Fighting Foods

Portrait of a sick runner.

The worst part about being sick is not being able to run.

Well I guess it’s not being able to do anything, besides sit in bed and drink excessive amounts of green tea, really.

But mostly, it’s not being able to run.

And when there’s something in the way of my being able to run, I’m not just gonna sit back and let it stay in the way. Nope. I was determined to kick this cold that I had. Kick it so hard that it would die faster than Ron Swanson can walk into a diner and order all of the bacon and eggs.

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When I started to complain that I didn’t feel well, everyone kept telling me to go buy Zicam. Which is a zinc supplement that “may reduce the duration of a cold.” But when I got to the pharmacy and started to read the ingredients that make up this zinc supplement that everyone I know seems to swear by, I put it right back on the shelf.

It contains corn syrup, corn syrup solids, FD&C red No. 40, sucralose, sucrose, sugar, and (my favorite added ingredients of them all) natural and artificial flavors. Really? All of this is necessary for a supplemental zinc cold remedy? Thanks, but no thanks.

Instead of further contaminating my body with more foreign agents than were already attacking it, I decided to Google “Foods with Zinc.” The first result revealed to me several foods, that I already had on hand which contain high concentrations of zinc. Great, what better way to boost my zinc intake than to eat foods that contain the cold-fighting nutrient?

Although I’m now reading that most studies say you can’t get enough zinc to fight off a cold from eating foods that are known for containing the nutrient, I’m convinced that my intake of the following foods helped me kick being sick for good.

1. Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted with olive oil, cayenne pepper, cumin, and chili powder.

(Read more about the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.)

2. Dark Chocolate

Any excuse to eat chocolate!

(Read more about the health benefits of dark cocoa.)

3. Peanuts

Not the comic strip.

(Read more about the health benefits of peanuts.)

Not only are these three super-foods known for the nutrient zinc, but they all also contain high levels of antioxidants. And speaking of antioxidants (they fight off free radicals in our bodies), here are a few more foods known for being high in antioxidants that I made sure to incorporate more of in my diet while fighting this awful cold.

4. Spinach

Incorporated into this Super-food Salad. (I’ll be posting the recipe for this tomorrow!)
And a strawberry-banana “green” smoothie.

(Read more about the benefits of spinach.)

5. Strawberries

Had to part with 4 bucks for a tiny little carton of these babies! When do they come back in season?

(Read more about the benefits of strawberries.)

6. Green Tea

Green Tea
I’ve had more cups of green tea in the past 4 days than one might think would be humanly possible.

(Read more about the benefits of green tea.)

7. Lemon

1/4 cup contains 46% of your daily value of Vitamin C & it goes great with green tea!

(Read more about the benefits of lemon.)

Now, let’s still keep in mind that there’s some debate about the use of zinc for curing the common cold. But just to give you a little perspective, and explain to you why I’m sold on curing colds with natural nutrients from food instead of store bought supplements and meds, I started to feel the signs of an oncoming cold on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I felt like death.

You know. When there’s not one single space for any air to pass through your nasal cavity, your eyelids feel as though they’re being pulled down by 10 ton anvils, every muscle in your body aches worse than if you had just completed 1 million burpees, and you just can’t really tell if you’re hot, cold, or going completely insane. In other words, I’m pretty sure I had the flu and was prepared to be down for the count for at least an entire week.

While these are all foods I choose to include in my typical daily diet anyway, I increased my intake to help fight off whatever was attacking my body (paired with lots of extra sleep!) and I was saying my final goodbyes and kicking this cold out the door by Friday night. Now it’s Saturday and I feel like new.

Now, let’s all pray that tomorrow I’ll feel 100% up to going for a run. That would be a true Christmas miracle.

What natural, whole-food cold & flu remedies do you swear by?