Print Friendly and PDF

4 Foods to Naturally Prevent Colds, Cough, and Respiratory Infections

Elizabeth Renter
March 15th, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 5:27 pm
Pin It

garlicpieces 263x164 4 Foods to Naturally Prevent Colds, Cough, and Respiratory InfectionsCoughs, colds, and illnesses in general are more common in cold winter months, as we stay out of the sun, producing little to no vitamin D, and stay indoors exchanging germs with everyone. Though spring is around the corner, boosting your immune system to fight potential respiratory infections is never a bad idea. You don’t have to wait to treat a cold or cough when you are in the thick of it – you can use natural means to prevent sickness before it shows up.

The foundation of preventing respiratory infections is found in a healthy, strong immune system. If your immune system is functioning properly, you will be able to fight off illnesses with little to no conscious effort on your part. Although there are many factors to consider for strengthening your immune system, such as minimizing stress and avoiding toxins, a healthy immune system starts with the diet.

Eating whole, natural foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other important plant compounds will nurture a healthy body. Steering clear of highly processed foods including over processed carbs and sugar will create a healing environment within your body, one where illness cannot thrive.

You can also add these 4 natural healers and immune boosters to your repertoire:

1. Kiwi

Kiwi is a natural immune booster containing numerous immune-boosting vitamins and minerals – namely vitamin C. Research has repeatedly shown vitamin C to encourage healthy immune function. One study involving military personnel who lived in close quarters found those who take vitamin C had a significantly lessened risk of contracting the common cold (45-91%) and of contracting pneumonia (80-100%).

Additionally, kiwi has specifically been used in studies to for preventing respiratory issues. One study, published in the journal Thorax, found that those consuming the most citrus and kiwi fruit were 44% less likely than the control group to experience wheezing, 28% less likely to experience runny nose, 25% less likely to have chronic cough, and 32% less likely to have shortness of breath.

2. Garlic

Garlic offers numerous health benefits, one of which is boosting immune function. Researchers have found people who take garlic are less likely to get a cold during peak cold season (between November and February). Also, those who take garlic see symptoms dissipate before those who do not. Use it in your cooking, slice it thin and raw on a salad, or make a bottle of garlic-honey to reap the benefits of this time-honored healer.

3. Oregano

This easily grown herb is packed with antibacterial benefits. This means it can fight infection and can even be used to treat a sinus infection when its steam is inhaled. Its anti-histamine properties can keep allergies under control and it can also ease congestion. Take it in a tea or try oregano oil. Oregano benefits truly are amazing, and the herb is super easy to grow.

4. Echinacea

There’s a reason you find Echinacea tea in nearly every grocery store (and why we mention it multiple times here at NaturalSociety). Why? Because the herb is a time-tested and proven immune booster. Take it at the first sign of a cold and the cold will have a shorter life. Studies suggest the herb has anti-viral properties and can treat everything from sinus infections and ear infections to slow-healing wounds.

From around the web:

  • Jack Emlton

    During season or climate change we have noticed the problems of cold and cough rapidly increases among human being so in order to prevent cold and cough problems from human being we should be more conscious and attentive with our daily practices and behavior. Cold and cough brings several horrible changes in human being such as it creates a problem in our respiratory system and not allow us to breathe freely. Therefore we should take preventive precautions to deal with our cold and cough problems. But here we have found certain beneficial foods that are quite eligible to puts a control over cold and cough problems.
    urgent care centers

  • djmordia

    Thanks for such informative post regarding natural foods that helps to cure cough..

  • Elaine Springer

    I am a big fan of organic Krishna Tulsi Tea. It soothes my being and instinctively I feel it is doing me a world of good !

  • Nancy

    Thanks for this information. natural foods i,e fresh fruits and vegetables are always beneficial for our over all health.

  • Dlaurian

    Thanks guys ! You give a suffering sick lady hope in the middle of the night. God bless you. The ideas you gave are helping/

  • Dorota

    When it comes to garlic – it is indispensible to buy an organic one that is pink and very smelly. I am afraid, Chinese garlic does not work…
    Also, I do recommend my grandmother's methods that I started using when I was pregnant.
    When I was a child I was always prescibed antibiotics which almost devasted my immune system. Since I rediscovered using the old ways that I never before believed in, I have never taken antibiotics anymore!
    1. Butter and honey on hot (not boiling) milk (3 times a day).
    2. Honey and onion syrup (two teaspoons of honey to melt on a grated onion).
    Both of them work when taken at the early stage of flu.

  • Cristina

    I eat all this and more, all organic, exercise daily and still got sick. If you have kids in school there is no way around it. Maybe we get a lighter version of it, where we can still function and go to work and do stuff, but still, the viruses out there today are not the ones we are used to, we just have no immunity to these.

    • Pam

      Cristina, I understand your frustration but have found that with our family that if we were still getting sick it was due to issues in our terrain… I.e., our gut. We found that we needed to increase the type and variance of our probiotics (homemade kefir, sauerkraut, raw milk, etc) along with consuming high levels of the natural anti-pathogens. in addition, we make sure we keep up our levels of Vitamin D3 & main well mineralized (Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, Iodine, etc with various salts). most critically, it is mandatory that each member of our family get 8 hours of sleep and avoids any processed, refined, GMO or sugar product during flu season. There are times we cheat but not in the heart of flu season.

  • Jennifer Smith

    Just keep doing what your doing :-)

  • Elena Anne

    Very interesting article Elizabeth. I would like to add to your list the ginger! I find fresh ginger to help me with coughing and sometimes treats the fever. I usually boil freshly grated ginger in water about 10 minutes and drink it during the day.