Food Fighters: How to Kick that Cold Without Medicine


Wanting Huang

Kale and Swiss Chard at Union Square Greenmarket.

Geomari Martinez, Contributing Writer

You can hear it and see it. It’s all around you and unavoidable: an orchestra of sniffles, sneezes and the occasional phlegm-filled cough fill the air. Flushed faces plague many, revealing the musicians who contribute to this score. Every year, the winter season showcases this all-too-familiar symphony of sickness. If you forgot to get the flu shot this year, you may be at risk of being thrown center stage.

Although typical over-the-counter medications can get the job done, there are more delicious and natural alternatives to help your body recover from the dreaded symptoms of the rhinovirus. Take a quick peek at your pantry or nearest dining hall and munch, sip and eat your way out of that cold. With these food fighters you’ll be singing songs of joy in no time.

It sucks being sick, so it’s important to take some preventive measures to make sure you leave the cold at the door. Here are two types of food that can help you remain healthy.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is certainly a strange one but apple cider vinegar, when diluted with water, makes the body more alkaline and thus less susceptible to the growth and proliferation of bacteria and viruses. Consume the mixture several times a day to  keep your symptoms from getting out of control.

Dark Leafy Greens

Don’t get stuck on the myth that oranges are the best sources of Vitamin C. Dark greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula and Swiss chard have much higher concentrations of the vitamin. Vitamin C has been proven to speed up the recovery process when consumed regularly. Make a salad, whip up a green smoothie or saute them and serve as a warm side dish. Like turmeric, the vitamins in these greens are best absorbed with fats, so try adding some olive oil to a salad or peanut butter to that smoothie.

If you came down with something anyways, worry not. There are many delicious and easy natural remedies.


What’s great about garlic is its versatility. Try making some pesto with it or simply throw some into any savory dish to reap the benefits its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Avoid consuming it in powder or pill form, and instead opt for the real thing. Allicin, the compound responsible for its health benefits,is most active and more easily utilized by your body when raw. Cooking down garlic causes allicin to lose its effectiveness.


Often overlooked for its role as the distinctively yellow colorant of curry, turmeric possesses a powerful compound called curcumin that serves as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. However, the body does not absorb it easily unless it is consumed with black pepper, as pepper contains piperine, a substance that maximizes the absorption of curcumin.

Spicy Foods

Add some Sriracha or hot sauce to your meal and get ready to feel all of that mucus running out of your nostrils at 100 mph. A compound known as capsaicin — which can be found in chili peppers, cayenne peppers and tabasco peppers — helps relieve sinus congestion by forcing your body to keep mucus and germs flowing out of your body.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea possesses two compounds, gingerol and shogaol, which are both known as anti-inflammatory agents that aid in not only relieving sore throats and facilitating digestion, but also in killing the virus responsible for your cold symptoms.

Email Geomari Martinez at [email protected]