Common Cold Remedies: How to Stay Healthy This Winter

By: Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D.  |  January/February 2017
Pictured recipe: This Asian-inspired chicken soup is made with shiitake mushrooms and cinnamon for extra insurance.
The nose rubbed raw from tissues. The hacking cough that makes a decent night of sleep impossible. Want to avoid this like, well, the plague? We've got science-backed kitchen remedies for the common to help you ward off those pesky bugs—or at least get you back on your feet faster. Plus, are the rumors true—can honey and soup help when you're sick? We get to the bottom of common nutrition myths to see if they'll help you heal up faster.

Cinnamon

Shake this versatile spice onto sweet and savory dishes. Researchers from Touro College in New York City found that cinnamon inactivates viruses by damaging their outer coating. Lead study author Milton Schiffenbauer, Ph.D., recommends getting 1 to 2 tablespoons a day to help block viruses that could trigger a cold or the flu.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Toss these mushrooms into your soups, stir-fries and casseroles to bolster your immunity, suggests a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. After adults ate 2 to 3 rehydrated dried shiitakes (equal to 5 to 10 fresh) every day for a month, their immune cells were stronger and quicker to react to potential invaders like viruses and bacteria.

Probiotics

Start a daily probiotic now for milder colds later, says a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. When college students took a probiotic supplement containing 1 billion colony-forming units each of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium every day for three months, they felt better up to two days earlier when they got a cold, and their colds were less severe than for those who popped a placebo. Look for a supplement that contains both strains. (Yogurt may also pack these bacteria, but it's tough to know how much you're getting.)
 
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