The Best Food for a Cold for Seniors

Senior living at home

While fall brings beautiful foliage and crisp weather, it also brings something far less desirable: cold and flu season. We all do our best to avoid catching anything, but it’s almost inevitable to feel under the weather for a few days in the colder months of the year. While colds can be miserable for just about anyone, they can be especially detrimental to seniors.

As we age, our immune systems become less efficient at fighting infections of any kind. When you do fall ill, it’s important to supply yourself with the nutrients your body needs to fight. That means more than taking medicine. These are some of the best food for a cold for seniors to incorporate into their diet to help them feel better, sooner.

Best Foods to Eat for Seniors with a Cold

Chicken soup

Your grandmother said it, your mother said it, and you probably said it too—when you’re sick, what you need is chicken soup. The old wives’ tale doesn’t exist just because it’s easy to eat. The combination of broth, chicken, and vegetables makes the dish high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. These elements are essential when you are sick. In addition, the warm soup also helps reduce congestion, soothes your throat, and is high in electrolytes.

Homemade chicken soup is easy to make, so if you have the energy, it is worth stepping into the kitchen. However, if you’re feeling too ill, purchase an organic option from the store to avoid unnecessary preservatives.

Salmon

Salmon is widely recognized as a superfood for a reason. Jam-packed with high-quality protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and the crucial vitamin D, salmon is fantastic for those who want an immune boost. Pair with healthy sides, such as broccoli and sweet potato, for an easy-to-make, well-rounded meal.

Citrus

In addition to chicken noodle soup, orange juice is an often recommended remedy for colds. This is due to the high levels of vitamin C. Lemons, oranges, limes, and other citrus fruits a good source of this vitamin. Squeeze them into your dishes, enjoy low-sugar juices, or have orange slices as a snack.

Garlic

According to a study published by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, those who ate higher levels of garlic over a three-month period had only 24 cases of the common cold. Those who didn’t reported 64 cases of the cold. This may be a result of the high levels of vitamins C, B6, manganese, and allicin, an antioxidant. Reap the health benefits of this cold-fighting ingredient by adding it to your eggs in the morning, your salads in the afternoon, and your soups in the evening.

Yogurt

When we think of the word “bacteria” we often grimace, but did you know there are “good bacteria” our body needs? Yogurt (specifically Greek yogurt) is full of that “good bacteria,” as well as probiotic microorganisms, which reduce one’s inflammatory response. One study even found that those who ate yogurt throughout the course of their cold recovered two days faster than others. While it isn’t a secret medicine, it can potentially help lessen your symptoms.

Healthy eating for seniors

Ginger

Ginger is widely recognized in herbal medicine and home remedies alike as a solution for nausea. However, ginger can do so much more for you. Its anti-inflammatory properties are perfect for those suffering from a cold, and can be enjoyed as both an ingredient in one’s meal and as a ginger tea. The latter serves as a powerful option for clearing congestion.

Chili peppers

Those looking to clear their sinuses should turn to foods with a little bit of spice—specifically chili peppers. Capsaicin is a chemical found naturally in spicy foods that causes a burning, and even a desensitizing, sensation in high enough quantities. Incorporating chili peppers into your meals can help break up mucus and clear out your sinuses. However, if you are experiencing an upset stomach as one of your cold symptoms, you may want to refrain from this tip.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice—dark chocolate may be helpful in fighting off a cold! Dark chocolate contains high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc, and most importantly when it comes to a cold, theobromine. One study found that this antioxidant helps alleviate coughing in bronchitis patients. Next time you head to the store, pick up a box of chocolates—but it’s important to note that dark chocolate is the solution, not milk. Dark chocolate contains a minimum of 50% cacao solids, however, the darker the better. Roughly 70% of cacao solids are recommended.

An at-home caregiver can help you live your healthiest life

In the colder months of the year, it’s normal for our energy to dip. Tasks like cooking for yourself, cleaning your home, or even tending to your personal care needs can feel too strenuous—and this isn’t even taking into account a potential cold.

Luckily, an at-home caregiver can help. For 30 years, Home Care Powered by AUAF’s dedicated staff has provided seniors the support they need to age comfortably, and healthfully, in place. For more information on our services, give us a call at (312) 971-6328.

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