You know the signs: tickly throat, runny nose and the overwhelming desire to head straight back to bed.
Side note – please ignore any well-meaning advice to “starve a fever”. A fever is part of the immune system’s attempt to beat the bug. While raising your body temperature to fight off the pathogen, metabolism increases and results in more calories being burned. For each rise in degree of temperature, the energy demand increases further.
Essentially, that means you need to eat. Here’s what I reach for at the first sign of a cold.
Mug of warm water, plus some extras
When I’m fighting off a cold, the first thing I do is get a big mug of warm water and squeeze the juice of a lemon into it, then mix in a little manuka honey.
This gives me a good hit of vitamin C from the get go. For years, vitamin C was praised for warding off the common cold, but new research suggests it’s actually more useful in helping you recover from colds faster.
Lots of veggies
If your body is fighting off a cold it needs energy – so get in lots of nutrient-dense foods. If I’m ill, I roast up a big tray of colourful vegetables to get in extra vitamin C and a variety of health-boosting antioxidants.
I’d recommend adding whole garlic cloves to the tray – it will give you the added benefit of allicin. This is the garlic plant’s natural protection against insects and microorganisms – essentially it helps the garlic ward off foreign pathogens. Studies show allicin has a similar protective effect in humans, too – it helps ward off the bugs that are making you feel so rotten.
Also toss in some onion or leek in your roasted veggie mix – they’re rich sources of prebiotics, which help feed the good bacteria in your gut. This helps create a healthy environment for immune cells, strengthening your natural defences.