Feeling Sick? Eat This! – Foods That Help Colds

Now that it’s cold and flu season, I’d like to share some tips on how to boost your immune system through nutrition, plus two recipes. Check out the information below, and pick and choose what seems right for you. And use organic ingredients if possible. I hope you all stay healthy this season.

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What to Eat

Lots of fluids: water, broths, herbal teas (Pizzorno, 2008)

Foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and/or zinc: beef and chicken liver, chili peppers, red peppers, dandelion root, carrots, collard greens, kale, sweet potatoes, parsley, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, red cabbage, lemons, turnips, asparagus, Swiss chard, fresh oysters, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, pecans, dry split peas, lima beans (Murray, 2005)

Foods, herbs, and spices with antimicrobial and soothing properties: cinnamon, cloves, coriander/cilantro, garlic (raw), ginger, honey (raw), horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, oregano and marjoram, rosemary, thyme (Murray, 2005)

Supplements to take with food: 

  • Vitamin A (5000 IU/day or beta-carotene 25,000 IU/day)
  • Vitamin C (500 mg every 2 hours)
  • Zinc (30 mg/day)

Supplements to take away from food, three times a day:

  • Echinacea: Dried root or tea (1.5-1 g), or 2-4 ml tincture diluted at a ratio of 1:5
  • Astragalus: Dried root (1-2 g), or 2-4 ml tincture diluted at a ratio of 1:5 (Pizzorno, 2008)

Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

In addition to consuming beneficial foods, it is also important to avoid products that compromise the immune system, like alcohol, foods to which you are sensitive (i.e. gluten, dairy, etc.), and simple sugars like fruit juices, candy, soda, sweeteners, and refined grains. Limit simple sugars to 50 g/day. Also, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding smoking will help your immune system stay strong (Pizzorno, 2008).


Rescue Me Tea

This spicy tea will warm you, thin your mucus, and soothe your throat, as well as provide some antimicrobial ingredients and immune boosting vitamins. You can adjust measurements to taste and add more ingredients like white tea or cloves if you feel adventurous.

  • fresh ginger root the size of a thumb, peeled and chopped into ½ inch chunks
  • 1 heaping tsp raw honey
  • juice of ¼ lemon
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • dash cinnamon

To make ginger tea, boil ginger in 2 c. water for 10 minutes; then discard ginger. Pour ginger tea into a large mug and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

Superhero Spread

This spread is loaded with antimicrobial ingredients and immune boosting vitamins

  • 2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • optional: extra whole pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, paprika

Rough blend all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Slowly add olive oil until mixed, leaving some texture to the spread. Garnish with paprika, whole pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temp. Goes well on crackers, chopped veggies, or fish.



  • Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books.
  • Pizzorno, J.E. Jr, Murray, M.T., Joiner-Bey, H. (2008). The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, Second Edition. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.