A chest infection can be exhausting and annoying. A way to prevent it is by strengthening your immune system. If you're looking for the best food for respiratory infection, fill up on vitamins C, B6 and E. Oranges, tangerines, strawberries, spinach, salmon and nuts are all rich in these nutrients.
Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
A lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) differs from what is referred to as an upper respiratory infection, or, the common cold, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. LRTIs are often associated with ailments that involve the chest.
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An article published in the March-April 2018 issue of the journal Lung India explains that the term lower respiratory tract infection is used to describe acute bronchitis and pneumonia. It may also refer to acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/chronic bronchitis (AECB) and bronchiectasis.
As reported in the November-December 2016 issue of Annals of Family Medicine, these infections are among the most common reasons for consulting a doctor. Baseline symptoms as detailed in the study include cough, phlegm, shortness of breath, wheeze, runny nose, fever, chest pain, muscle aches, headache, disturbed sleep, feeling generally unwell, interference with normal activities/work, confusion/disorientation and diarrhea.
You may be prescribed antibiotics when you have an LRTI or you may take over-the-counter medication. Certain foods may help ease the symptoms and improve your body's ability to ward off infections, so include them in your diet.
Read more: The Dangers of Coughing
Food for Chest Infection
In general, a varied diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables ensures you're eating good food for a chest infection and for a healthy immune system. A Harvard University Health Letter mentions vitamin C's ability to ward off illness, while the Cleveland Clinic also mentions vitamins B6 and E as natural immunity boosters.
Foods that are a good source of vitamin C — a potent antioxidant that contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions — include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body does not store it, so making sure you get enough daily from your diet is important. Low levels of this nutrient can make you more susceptible to illness.
Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. Chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables and chickpeas are some of the best dietary sources. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection, is found in nuts, seeds and spinach.
As the Cleveland Clinic points out, staying hydrated may boost your immune health. Water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Cucumbers, celery, lettuce and watermelon are all high in water and can help increase your hydration levels.
Read more: 8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Good Food for Chesty Cough
A review published in the March 2015 issue of Nutrients states that the Mediterranean diet may protect against allergic respiratory diseases. This eating plan is rich in minimally processed plant foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole-grain bread, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds. It also encourages low to moderate intakes of dairy foods, fish, poultry and wine and a low intake of red meat.
Other options to soothe the symptoms of a chest infection can be a bowl of broth-based soup as it may help thin the mucus in your lungs and keep your nasal passages moist. Spicy foods with ingredients like chili peppers can help break up mucus and clear sinus passages.
Hot tea can soothe a sore throat and act as a natural decongestant. Consider choosing herbal teas over green or black tea to avoid caffeine, a diuretic, when you're fighting an illness. And as previously mentioned, fruits and vegetables can help your immune system get stronger and recover faster from infections.
Read more: Food to Eat When Coughing
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: "Upper Respiratory Infection"
- Lung India: "Management of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection in Outpatient Settings: Focus on Clarithromycin"
- Annals of Family Medicine: "Disease Course of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection With a Bacterial Cause"
- Nutrients: "Nutrition and Respiratory Health—Feature Review"
- Cleveland Clinic: "3 Vitamins That Are Best for Boosting Your Immunity"
- Harvard University Health Letter: "Can Vitamin C Prevent a Cold?"