Superfoods That Fight Colds

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However, studies do show that taking the vitamin at the first sign of illness may reduce a cold's duration by about a day, which can feel like a lifetime when you're suffering. Eating lots of citrus—whether that entails digging in to orange and grapefruit slices, or using lemons and limes in recipes—will provide plenty of this powerhouse nutrient. Don't worry about overdoing it, since it's very hard to overdose on vitamin C.

Anything your body doesn't use is just washed right out of your system. Like anise seeds, fennel is a natural expectorant, and can help clear chest congestion and soothe a persistent cough. The two foods have similar flavors, in fact, and in supermarkets fennel is sometimes referred to as anise, even though they're different plants. Fennel can be eaten raw or roasted, but you may get the best cold-fighting benefit from drinking a tea made from fennel seeds.

Try Yogi Tea's Throat Comfort, or make your own with 1. Steep for 15 minutes, strain, and sweeten with honey to taste. We usually think of bacteria as a bad thing, but some of these microorganisms are essential for good health. Eating probiotic foods , such as yogurt and kefir, is a good way to replenish beneficial strains of bacteria, which promote digestive health and help prevent stomach ailments.

The benefits of good bacteria may go beyond our gut. A review of the research found that consuming probiotics—whether in food or supplement form—lowers the risk of upper respiratory tract infections better than a placebo.

Everyone knows a steaming hot cup of tea can help break up chest congestion and soothe a sore throat, but the benefits may run deeper. All tea—black, green, or white—contains a group of antioxidants known as catechins, which may have flu-fighting properties. Need another reason to turn on the kettle?

Other research suggests catechins may help boost overall immunity, rev metabolism, and protect against cancer and heart disease. Like citrus fruits, red peppers are high in vitamin C. In fact, one red pepper has milligrams of the nutrient—that's twice the recommended daily allowance for women. A large orange, by comparison, only has about milligrams.

Even that may not be enough, however, as studies suggest you need much more than that to harness the nutrient's cold-fighting benefits.

Much of the vitamin D that our bodies need to build strong bones, defend against heart disease, and—you guessed it—bolster our immune system is produced when the sun's rays interact with our skin cells. But this key vitamin is also found in fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereal. Getting your daily dose of vitamin D may keep colds at bay.

A study from Massachusetts General Hospital found that lower vitamin D levels were associated with a greater risk of upper respiratory infections. In , the same researchers found that Vitamin D supplements can help ward off kids' winter colds , as well. When it comes to mushrooms , your choices are many: White button, Portobello, shiitake, and Maitake are just a few of the varieties you'll find in your grocery store.

Fortunately, just about all mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fiber.

Shiitakes, for example, contain lentinan, a nutrient that is thought to have anticancer properties. Other varieties, such as certain brands of Portobello, are grown in ultraviolet light to spur vitamin D production. Lean proteins, such as turkey breast with the skin removed, are high on Ansel's list of flu fighters.

Chicken, turkey, and pork are all good sources of protein, but you can also get plenty from meatless sources such as beans, nuts, and dairy. The darker the greens, the higher the nutrient content. So when you're shoring up your defenses for cold and flu season, choose arugula and kale over iceberg lettuce. Bitter greens like arugula may even help relieve chest congestion, sniffles, and coughs.

It's not entirely clear, although a British study found that mice that were fed green vegetables had more infection-fighting white blood cells in their intestines than those who were not.

These antioxidant powerhouses are bite-sized immunity boosters, especially when they grow in the wild. In , Cornell University scientists found that wild blueberries contained the most active antioxidants of any fresh fruit, thanks to their high levels of anthocyanins—one of the most potent antioxidants.

Ounce for ounce, pure cocoa contains more of the disease-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols than most berries—and it's loaded with zinc, to boot. Too often, however, the nutritional benefits of cocoa are overshadowed by the sugar and saturated fat found in chocolate bars and other treats. These rich, creamy nuts are high in protein, healthy fats, and selenium, a mineral that's essential for proper immune function and may help guard against infections and flu. In a study, University of North Carolina researchers found that mice infected with the flu virus showed higher levels of inflammation if they were deficient in selenium.

Your body only needs a small amount of selenium, though, and getting too much may actually raise your risk for certain diseases. Just one nut contains more than a day's recommended value, so eat these treats sparingly.

Orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes , are rich in beta-carotene. When we eat these foods, our bodies convert this organic compound into vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. Vitamin A is especially important for areas that go haywire when we catch a cold: It keeps the mucous membranes that line our nose and throat—one of the body's first lines of defense—healthy and functioning properly. For a healthier choice, be sure to choose dry-roasted seeds over those roasted in oil.

Vitamin E may be especially important for the health of our lungs, where it appears to fight the harmful process known as oxidative stress. A study in Scotland found that people with diets high in vitamins C and E had greater lung capacity and produced less phlegm. It may also become attached to clothing, shoes, and pets and therefore be carried indoors. Mold can have many different colors including brown, green, and black and sometimes appears as spots.

Additionally, a musty odor may be present. Mold growth may hide underneath carpeting, on the backside of wallpaper, and behind drywall or wall paneling. Mold thrives in saunas, greenhouses, and construction areas.

Many different types of molds can grow on food. According to the U. Certain kinds of cheeses are made with mold, like brie, gorgonzola, stilton, roquefort, and camembert. The mold that is part of the food manufacturing process is safe and does not pose health risks. It is also normal for dry-cured country ham and hard salami to have surface mold. The USDA has a helpful online resource that can show you what molds in food are safe and how to handle moldy foods. Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy causing substances allergens in sensitive individuals.

Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. The term "toxic mold," therefore, refers to the fact that certain kinds of mold can produce mycotoxins.

The conditions under which some molds produce toxins is not understood, and the presence of mold, even a mold that is capable of producing toxins, does not always imply that toxins are being produced or that a health risk or problem is present. Mold may not cause any health problems, or it may lead to allergy or other symptoms in people, including adults and children, who are sensitive to molds.

Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold and are therefore the greatest health risk related to mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Symptoms and signs of mold allergy may include. Mold or mold spores may cause asthma attacks in people who have asthma and are allergic to mold. Even in some nonallergic individuals, mold can cause symptoms of irritation in the eyes, skin, and airways.

For example, the "black mold" Stachybotrys , along with some other types of mold, produces toxins known as mycotoxins that can cause irritation of the skin and airways in susceptible individuals. Sometimes, people may develop severe reactions to mold exposure.

Symptoms of severe reactions, which are uncommon, include fever and difficulty breathing. People with compromised immune systems or patients with chronic lung disease can develop serious infections of the lungs due to molds. It is not possible to predict the degree of severity of the health risks associated with mold in the home.

Allergic individuals vary in their degree of susceptibility to mold, and any symptoms and health risks also depend upon the extent and exact type of mold that is present.

In guidelines update in , the Institute of Medicine IOM reported there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people, although the report stated that was no evidence that mold causes medical conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or other respiratory conditions.

Mold also worsens asthma symptoms in people who have asthma. Mold was also reported to be linked to hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to this immunologic condition. This uncommon disease is similar to pneumonia and can develop in susceptible individuals after brief or prolonged exposure to mold, but there has been no conclusive evidence to prove this relationship.

The treatment for allergic reactions to mold is the same as the treatment for allergic reactions in general. Fungal infections that spread throughout the body that occur in people with weakened immune systems are typically treated in the hospital with special antifungal drugs and other measures to support breathing and circulation.

Treatment of underlying conditions such as asthma is described in the article on asthma and depends on the severity type of symptoms the patient experiences.

The best way to prevent mold in the home is the control of moisture. Although it is impossible to eliminate all mold spores in an indoor environment, the mold spores will not grow in the absence of moisture, so controlling moisture is the key to preventing mold growth.

Environmental Protection Agency EPA , if visible mold is present on inspection, testing is usually unnecessary. There are no Environmental Protection Agency or government standards that have been established for mold or mold spore levels, so it is impossible to prove that a building or room complies with any health regulations concerning mold exposure. Likewise, the CDC does not recommend routine sampling and testing of mold in the home.

Health officials haven't defined tolerable or acceptable limits of mold exposure for humans, and since individuals vary in their susceptibility to mold, testing cannot reliably predict the degree of health risks from any occurrence of mold. When mold has previously been identified and cleanup procedures have been undertaken, sampling and testing may be carried out if necessary by qualified professionals to determine that adequate cleaning of a building has occurred.

Mold clean up procedures are somewhat dependent upon the extent of the problem and the type of surface contamination. Large areas of mold in a building may require the services of a professional contractor skilled in mold removal and remediation. Scrub hard surfaces, such as walls, that harbor mold with detergent and water, and these should be dried completely. Discard porous or absorbent materials such as cloth, ceiling tiles, carpets, etc.

In some cases, it may be necessary to use a dilute solution of chlorine bleach no stronger than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water or stronger commercial cleaners to kill and remove the mold.

Be sure to discuss any health problem with a health care professional prior to attempting to remove and clean mold if you have an allergy or are sensitive to molds. Use rubber gloves when washing with soap and water, but for bleach and harsher cleaning agents, nonporous gloves for example, natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC should be worn along with protective eyewear.

Wearing an N respirator available at many hardware stores can further limit exposure to airborne mold or spores when cleaning.

Avoid touching moldy surfaces with bare hands. After mold removal, it is important to prevent further regrowth of mold by keeping affected areas as dry as possible. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time. Learn about asthma, a chronic inflammation disorder of the bronchiole tubes. Discover information about asthma attacks, asthma symptoms, and asthma treatments.

Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, itchy ears, eyes, and throat. Seasonal allergic rhinitis also called hay fever usually is caused by pollen in the air. Perennial allergic rhinitis is a type of chronic rhinitis and is a year-round problem, often caused by indoor allergens, such as dust, animal dander, and pollens that may exist at the time.

Treatment of chronic rhinitis and post nasal drip are dependent upon the type of rhinitis condition. Night sweats are severe hot flashes that occur at night and result in a drenching sweat. The causes of night sweats in most people are not serious, like menopause in women, sleep apnea, medications, alcohol withdrawal, and thyroid problems.

However, more serious diseases like cancer and HIV also can cause night sweats. Your doctor will treat your night sweats depending upon the cause. You may experience other signs and symptoms that are associated with night sweats, which depend upon the cause, but may include, shaking, and chills with a fever caused by an infection like the flu or pneumonia; unexplained weight loss due to lymphoma; women in perimenopause or menopause may also have vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes during the day; and low blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Other causes of night sweats include medications like NSAIDs aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen Motrin, Advil , and naproxen Aleve, Naprosyn , antidepressants, sildenafil Viagra , and abuse of prescription or illegal drugs and drug withdrawal; hormone disorders like pheochromocytoma and carcinoid syndrome; idiopathic hyperhidrosis; infections like endocarditis, AIDs, and abscesses; alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal; drug abuse, addiction, and withdrawal; and stroke.

A doctor or other health care professional can treat your night sweats after the cause has been diagnosed. Readers Comments 70 Share Your Story. Mold Exposure Treatment What is the treatment for allergic reactions to indoor allergens?

Where does mold grow in homes? Readers Comments 17 Share Your Story. What kind of mold grows on food? Take the Asthma Quiz! Asthma Myths and Facts. What are the health risks of mold exposure? What are symptoms and signs of mold allergy? What is the treatment for mold exposure? Is it possible to prevent mold in the household? Is it necessary to test for mold? How should people clean up and eliminate mold?

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