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Cold and Flu Center

What to Eat When I Have a Sore Throat & Cough?

author image Sarah Collins
Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in Arizona Weddings, Virginia Bride and on Gin & Pork and Bashelorette.com.
What to Eat When I Have a Sore Throat & Cough?
Sick young woman holding a glass of orange juice. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

A sore, scratchy throat and cough are hallmark symptoms of the common cold, though these discomforts can be attributed to a number of mild illnesses. With more than one billion colds per year in the United States, according to MedlinePlus -- not to mention all the other illnesses that could cause a cough -- you're bound to experience these symptoms at some point. When a sore throat and cough hit, pick foods that will either soothe your symptoms or speed up the healing process.

Foods to Soothe

Sipping on homemade chicken soup might seem like an old wives tale, but it can help make your sore throat feel better, Dr. Jeffrey Linder told Health.com. The sodium in the broth might help inflammation, and it's easy to swallow without too much pain. Plus, you'll get beneficial nutrients from a soup filed with chicken and veggies that you won't get from other traditional throat-soothers, such as ice cream. Both anise seeds and fennel can help calm a cough, as they are natural expectorants. The easiest way to ingest these is through tea, made by steeping crushed seeds in a cup of boiling water. If you don't like the flavor, add a small amount of honey or cinnamon.

Foods to Heal

Your body can't fight off whatever is causing your sore throat and cough without the nutrients it needs, registered dietitian Karen Ansel of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told Health.com. Eat plenty of lean proteins such as skinless chicken or turkey, as well as beans and nuts, which she says build antibodies and fight infections. Additionally, although vitamin C has somewhat lost its reputation as the golden child for fighting symptoms such as sore throat and cough, it still has its benefits -- if it's a cold causing your pain, it may reduce the illness' duration if you increase your dosage at the first sign of illness.

Don't Forget Fluids

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even when it's a struggle to swallow. If you're tired of water, sip on a cup of warm tea with a teaspoon of honey, which can both hydrate you and soothe your throat. All types of non-herbal teas, whether black, green or white, contain catechins, a group of antioxidants that could help fight illness. The honey has antibacterial properties that can also help clear up your illness.

What to Avoid

Even though a glass of wine might help you sleep when you're feeling under the weather, avoid drinking alcohol as your body works to recover. Ilyse Schapiro, registered dietitian, told "The Huffington Post" that alcohol suppresses your immune system and dehydrates you. As for whether you should consume milk and other dairy products, the jury's still out -- it can increase mucus, which can worsen your cough, but Schapiro says it also contains protein and vitamin D, both of which help fight the illness. If it doesn't aggravate your cough, go ahead and enjoy a glass of milk.

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