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18 Best Foods to Ease Your Cough and Cold

By Riddhi Parmar +2 more

Winter is coming!

A cosy room, warm blankets, a cup of hot chocolate and pleasant music is the ideal way to enjoy this season. Winter is a beautiful season unless you suffer from some cough and cold. 

Cough and cold can be frustrating and debilitating, especially if you cannot control the bouts of cough. It is normal to clear your throat when you feel something stuck in your throat, but if it is severe, then you might suffer from a cough later. During winter, you are more prone to infections because of weakened immunity. 

What is the cough?

Cough is a body’s natural response that clears your throat from mucus or foreign irritants, and it might be caused when some food blocks your airways. Cough can be acute or chronic. Acute cough lasts for less than three weeks, and chronic cough lasts over eight weeks.

What are the causes of a cough?

There are several reasons for cough, and it can be temporary or permanent. Some common causes of cough are as follows:

  • Infections–bacterial or viral
  • Smoking
  • Asthma and allergies 
  • Foreign particles or irritants 
  • Drug-induced cough–Lisinopril and Enalapril 

Also Read: All Basics Of Common Cold You Should Know!

What are the types of cough?

There are many types of cough, depending on their underlying cause, but commonly we divide it –

  • Dry cough – A dry cough doesn’t bring up mucus, and it can cause because of common cold and flu.
  • Wet or productive cough – There is a productive cough that helps to push mucus out of your respiratory system. Some acute or chronic infections can cause a wet cough.

If you have a wet cough, you don’t want to suppress it as the infected mucus should drain out, but you want to ease your dry cough because it is exhausting. Here, we have enlisted some common foods, herbs or home remedies that will reduce the dry and wet cough – 

1: Ginger 
Ginger is a popular home remedy for cough and acts as an anti-inflammatory. A cup of hot ginger tea can ease your annoying cough and sore throat. Ginger contains certain compounds that dilate the blood vessels of the lungs and relax smooth muscles that lead to the opening of the airways. You can slice up fresh ginger or freshly grated ginger in hot tea for cough relief. 

2: Garlic
Garlic can help you fight cold and flu. It ensures faster recovery as well as has other health benefits. It is great if you can have raw garlic or you can also add them to your chicken soup. Garlic is rich in compounds that boost immunity, it has medicinal properties and can be a part of your daily diet.

3: Raw honey 
Raw honey is versatile in its healing properties, particularly in respiratory complaints. It possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the intensity and duration of a cough. For better results, make a tea with two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with adequate water. Lemon will act as an antioxidant and help to boost your energy. 

4: Turmeric 
Turmeric milk is one of the famous home remedies in India for almost every sickness. It is a potent home remedy for sore throat and cough. Turmeric is beneficial because of the presence of Curcumin in it. Curcumin gives a yellow colour to turmeric and provides anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric boosts your immune system and active antibody reaction against infection. Add some black pepper in the turmeric for fast relief. 

5: Lemon 
Lemon is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Lemon helps to boost immunity and is also essential for DNA repair and serotonin production. A freshly squeezed lemon with warm water or tea can help you soothe your sore throat and cough. You may also have oranges during the flu. It has high vitamin C and helps you get well faster.

6: Pineapple
These would be a surprise for you, but pineapple is a potent cough aid. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that has anti-inflammatory and mucolytic (break down of mucus) properties. These two characteristics of bromelain make pineapple an excellent food to help relieve a cough.

7: Pomegranate juice 
Fresh pomegranate juice is full of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains flavonoid antioxidants, which are helpful to combat viruses and decrease the length of a cold by as much as 40%. You can drink fresh pomegranate juice daily or you can add them in smoothies or herbal tea. 

8: Hot tea
Hot tea (green, black, and regular) is best when you have a cough or cold. Antioxidant-rich tea soothes your sore throat and liquefies mucus from your congested nose that helps to clear the nasal passage. You may also have Chamomile tea, it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile tea promotes sleep and helps to protect your immunity.

9: Pumpkin seeds 
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, a mineral that your body requires to boost the function of white blood cells. White blood cells are important to fight off pathogens like the flu virus. You may consume these by the handful or even sprinkle them on salads to add some nice crunch.

10: Yoghurt
Probiotics are your best bet to fight symptoms of the common cold and flu. People who consume yoghurt are overall healthier. They have the ability to recover faster than those who lack probiotics in their body. They even experience less severe flu symptoms.

11: Broth or soup 
Yes, your granny was right! A chicken soup or broth is an excellent food to eat when you have flu. The steam from soup or broth speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose to relieve congestion. A healthy soup also helps reduce inflammation. Sipping hot soup enhances your immune system that guards against bacteria and viruses. If you don’t eat chicken, then opt for vegetable soup flavoured with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and black pepper. 

12. Vegetable juice

Antioxidants are present in vegetables and help boost your immunity. Vegetable juice can speed up your recovery from illnesses like the flu. When you are down with flu symptoms, you will likely lose taste and not feel like eating solid foods. A glass of vegetable juice is the perfect solution for you. You may include vegetables like carrots, kale which is known for their antiviral properties and more.

13. Turkey Sandwich:

Cough and cold take a toll on your immune system and make you weak. Eating protein-rich food items will help you spring back to normal health. You may lose your appetite while being sick, but getting the right amount of nutrition is important. A turkey sandwich will provide you with the essential protein building blocks that your immune system needs to fight the flu.

14. Traditional Chicken Stew:

Chicken stew is comfort food that you can rely on when you have a sore throat, a bad cough or flu. The ingredients that go into making chicken stew work effectively to provide relief when you have a cough and cold. Vegetables, chicken broth, salt, pepper, onion and garlic are the basic ingredients that go into making chicken stew.

15. Banana

Eating bananas when you are suffering from cough, cold and other problems like nausea or vomiting helps in getting rid of the diseases easier. Banana is a part of BRAT (Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast), a diet type recommended for people suffering from cough, cold and stomach ailments. Bananas are rich in nutrients and fast-acting carbs with soluble fibre content.

16. Kiwi

Kiwi sounds unnatural but is one of the best foods to ease your cough. A test taken among adults with cold and flu symptoms showed that kiwi eaters had their sore throat issues resolved in a day. Micronutrients present in kiwi enhance the concentration of immunity-boosting erythrocytes in the red blood cells.

17. Almonds

Almonds have both preventive and therapeutic properties to cure a cold and cough. Almonds’ skin contains polyphenols, a disease-fighting compound that helps to increase the sensitivity of white blood cells and helps them to fight off viruses effectively and fast. Even after the almonds have been digested, this immunity boost lingers for quite some time, according to researchers. Almonds without the skin have little to no effect on immunity levels.

Non-Food remedies to deal with cough and cold

TipsHow it helps
Clean your noseBlowing your nose gently (with a clean cloth) as well as using a saltwater rinse can effectively remove the phlegm building up in your nasal passages
GargleUse a warm gargle to clear your throat, this helps with reducing mucus as well as providing some relief (drinking warm beverages can also ease your throat pain)
DietFollow the above dietary recommendations to boost your overall health and support your immune system, this gives you the strength to get back to a healthy state quicker
SteamUsing steam inhalation or even simply taking a steamy shower can help you to relax, open up your nasal passages and feel much better

Suffering from a cough or cold these days is terrifying, but a healthy diet can be a saviour for you. Healthy foods can increase your immune system and keep you healthy. 

Read more about: Benefits of Immunity Booster Kadha or Herbal Tea


Q1. Is coughing contagious?

Ans: No. Coughing associated with the common cold and flu is not contagious, however, whooping cough also known as pertussis is a very contagious disease and is caused only in humans. It is caused by the bacteria bordetella pertussis and spreads from one individual to another by sneezing or coughing by being in close proximity sharing space for a long time. An infected person is contagious for around two weeks. Advances in modern medicine and antibiotics can help lower this time significantly. 

Q2. What should be my personal hygiene during cough and cold?

Ans: When suffering from cough and cold, you should maintain the following personal hygiene tips to recover faster and keep your loved ones safe from a possible infection:
> Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing and sneezing. Using a tissue is always the better option as it is easily disposable. 
> Always ensure to throw the tissues in the trash can 
> Before touching your food or objects in the house wash your hands with soap and water. 

Q3. Are there foods that can worsen my cough and cold?

Ans: Yes. During cough and cold, you should refrain from certain foods that can actually worsen your cough and cold. These are:
Sugar: whether you are consuming sugar through your tea/coffee or having chocolates, sweets and pastries, sugar consumption during cough and cold should be avoided as sugar holds the potential to suppress immunity.  
Alcohol: Although some people may prescribe you to have a bit of gin and tonic during a cough and cold to provide you relief, alcohol consumption suppresses white blood cells within your blood and increases bronchial and lung inflammation. Moreover, alcohol will dehydrate you at a time when you actually should be drinking more fluids.  
Caffeinated Drinks: Tea, coffee or other kinds of caffeinated drinks act as diuretics and increase the expulsion of water and salts from the body. This will make you feel dehydrated.  
Spicy food: Consuming spicy food which is generally made with a lot of chillies can provide you temporary relief by thinning out the mucus but in the long run, capsaicin contained in chillies increases the production of phlegm which will delay your recovery.  
Milk: Drinking milk will increase phlegm and make your mucus thicker. So consuming milk is not a good idea during cough and cold.  

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.


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Lamisi Sungaaye

The information was very helpful. Thank you so much

Ashir Sahal

You are most welcome. Hope you found it useful.

Josephine Bosas

Thank you for your article, I find it beneficial in terms of eating natural foods as a cure to an illness instead of synthetic drugs that has many negative side effects.

Ashir Sahal

Thanks for your feedback. Stay tuned for more such articles.