Often, food can be a real turnoff when you're sick, particularly with a cold or the flu. But the right foods and fluids will bring relief, either from cold symptoms or to help improve the immune system so that you can feel stronger quicker.

Here are some foods to rely on while you are under the weather. Some can also fight a cold off or lessen its severity or length. So stock up!

Green veggies

Green vegetables contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants, as well as essential nutrients, including vitamins A and C and folate, believed to support the immune system work. They also provide bioactive compounds that provide a chemical signal, locating 70-80 percent of immune cells, that optimizes immunity in the gut. You may also mix leafy greens into a smoothie, like kale or spinach.


A quarter cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice supplies about 30 percent of the daily vitamin C target. This nutrient, which also acts as an antioxidant, is required for DNA repair and the development of serotonin, in addition to promoting immunity. The latter helps foster sleep and satisfaction. For hot or chilled water or hot tea, add fresh-squeezed lemon juice.


Ginger relieves nausea and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Go for a fresh ginger root for the greatest benefits. Cut or grate and apply fresh fruit to your tea, broth, smoothies, juice, or scatter over everything.

Broth or soup

Caretakers have been doling chicken or other broth-based soups out to cold sufferers for decades, and there is some evidence to help their benefit. The influence is three-fold. The steam from the soup or broth speeds up the flow of mucus into the nose to alleviate congestion. A healthy broth helps decrease inflammation, as well.

Chamomile tea

The consumption of chamomile has been linked to an improvement in the body's antibacterial activity. However, its true effect may be its ability to encourage sleep, which preserves immunity. In one study relative to those who did not drink chamomile, postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for a couple of weeks showed improved sleep quality. Sip hot or iced, or use steeped tea as a smoothie or oatmeal liquid.

Raw honey

Raw honey has been shown to help relieve coughs in infants, in addition to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Manuka honey, a variety native to New Zealand but available in the US, can help to improve immunity in particular. To soothe your throat and potentially cure a cough, stir it into your chamomile tea.