If I Feel A Cold Coming On, Are There Certain Foods I Should Include In My Diet To Help Prevent It?

Dr. Owen Hendley answers the question: 'Are There Foods To Help Prevent A Cold?'

ByABC News
September 25, 2008, 10:08 AM

— -- Question: If I feel a cold coming on, are there certain foods I should include in my diet to help prevent it?

Answer: So can you nip a cold in the bud, so to speak? And the evidence is not very powerful that you can. A cold is caused by an infection with a virus and then the symptoms that we all experience are really produced by the body's response to the viral infection.

And it turns out that the body's response is very important in helping you get over the cold within five to seven days. So, can you take something that will make it so that you speed up the body's response that might be good, might be bad?

One of the things, the natural substances that have been used by people for a long time, is vitamin C. Vitamin C has no antiviral effect. It doesn't kill the virus. It does have a modest anti-inflammatory effect, so it would be like taking a small dose of aspirin or ibuprofen, or something like that.

Would it help you get over it faster then? The answer is no. Will you feel a little better? And the answer is perhaps, yes. So there is nothing -- garlic, tea -- all the rest of those things, to my knowledge, don't help you get over it.

It should be said that 40 percent of the symptoms that you have with a cold are what's called subjective. That is, it's what you feel and somebody can't see them. As a consequence, there is a huge placebo effect of almost any medication that you take with a cold.

So, what I conclude is, if something helps you get through your cold and you feel like it helps you, that's okay as long as it doesn't do any harm. If vitamin C or garlic seems to help you get over it faster, go right ahead. It really doesn't have an effect, but go right ahead.

Next: Will Echinacea Help Prevent Or Shorten The Length Of A Cold?

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