Coming up to cold and flu season has us wanting to amp up our protection against sickness whatever way we can. We know that traditionally, things like chicken soup and vitamin C have been touted as flu busters, but are they really? Or are we wasting our time with these home remedies? We decided to dig a little deeper into some supposed flu-fighting foods to see what’s based in fact, and what’s pure fiction.




Which of these commonly prescribed foods actually help prevent the flu?



    **It's the phytochemical allicin in garlic that makes it a powerhouse bacteria, fungus, and virus fighter. Unfortunately, for it to be most effective, it needs to be crushed or chopped and consumed raw. If chewing raw garlic all day doesn't float your boat, try tossing a few minced cloves into a glass of water and drinking it quickly. Allicin is destroyed within an hour of crushing the garlic clove, so make sure you're downing it as soon as possible.**



    This is not just an old wives' tale, chicken soup can help soothe a cold or flu. Research in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that the carnosine in chicken broth helped the immune system fight off the flu. The study also noted that the benefit of the carnosine ended as soon as it was excreted from the body, so you need a pretty constant supply. If you don't eat meat, a veggie soup can still be helpful. One theory is that hot soup can raise the temperature in the nose and throat, making it an inhospitable environment for viruses.



    People have been researching the effect of Vitamin C on cold and flu for years, and the results are definitively inconclusive. Some show that vitamin C does help reduce the length and severity of colds and flus, while other show no impact at all. In fact "megadosing" on vitamin C, as is sometimes touted as a cold remedy, can actually cause adverse health effects, such as stomach pain and diarrhea. While we definitely need to inlcude vitamin C-rich foods in our diets for optimal health,  there just isn't enough evidence to say it can help fight the flu.



    Ginger has long been valued for it's ability to aid with upset stomachs, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, but it is also a powerful decongestant and antihistamine. These qualities mean it may help ease symptoms of the flu, there's not much evidence that it can help prevent you from getting sick in the first place.



    Honey has commonly been paired with lemon for a cold or flu soothing drink, but a study published in the _Archives of Medical Research_ journal shows that some kinds of honey can actually provide a natural alternative to anti-flu drugs. Manuka honey, a type of honey produced by bees foraging on the manuka tree (or tea tree), was found to kill the flu virus at a rate higher than other type of honey tested, although all showed anti-viral properties.



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