Fighting Flu and Cold Symptoms With Food

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The Cooking Cardiologist, Dr. Richard Collins,  explains.

Data pix.

The following is a medical informational document. Please contact your medical provider for advice on treatment specifically for you and your family.

Starve a fever, feed a cold. Is this adage good medicine? Recent studies suggest that to fight a common cold, neither patented medicines nor over-the-counter remedies shorten the duration. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. So should you starve a fever, feed a cold? No. The best advice: hydrate a fever, herb a cold.


Symptom relief is the answer, watching for complications of an intense sore throat, difficulty in swallowing or breathing, and/or a high un-breaking fever. If present, seek medical advice immediately. The common cold and flu symptoms are caused from viruses that cannot be killed by conventional antibiotics. The key to lessening symptoms is to improve secretions, irrigate passages, check fever and control discomfort myalgias (painful muscles). Rest is the best cure.


Our greatest defender against flu and colds is our immune system. When functioning properly, it kills bacteria and viruses. To do this work, our amazing immune system produces several types of cells (phagocytes, T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes), antibodies and chemicals – all without assistance from us. However, several factors under our control – diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction and choosing effective supplements – can assist the immune system to perform at optimal level



Lifestyle Recommendations:


Eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining a normal weight are good for your immune system. On recent study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that women who frequently and intentionally lost weight (10 or more pounds) had lower measures of immune function.


Get Your Antioxidants: Vitamins A (as mixed carotenes) C, E and the mineral selenium are essential for a healthy immune system. Try to avoid processed foods and go for a whole-foods diet replete with grains, colorful fruits and vegetables.   An antioxidant supplement may help if your immune system is suppressed or compromised for some reason or if you’re not eating a healthy diet.


Whether physical or psychological, stress raises the level of cortisol, which plays an important function in regulating the immune system. Too much cortisol over the long run can wreak havoc on the immune system and other bodily systems. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2004 found that people who felt overwhelmed and otherwise psychologically stressed actually produced fewer antibodies in response to an influenza vaccine.


Exercising (and not over-exercising) can enhance immune function. Moderate exercise is a great strategy for preventing colds and flu. Don’t work out if you have the flu or develop a fever. Extreme training (think marathon) can suppress the immune system. The average American has no need to fear they’re getting too much exercise – most of us don’t get enough. Even as much as an hour of exercise daily should help enhance immune function.


Smoking impairs several aspects of immune function. Don’t go there.


Sleep deprivation raises blood levels of cortisol. Lack of sleep and too much stress make the body weak. Viruses are around us all the time and it’s when our immune system is lax that they can take over. Slow down and avoid over-scheduling so you can relax and fall asleep at a reasonable hour. If you do get a cold or the flu, rest as much as possible.


Wash your hands frequently: This is a no-brainer, especially when you are out in public places. Use hot water and soap. It may be a good idea to carry alcohol toweletes.




The Hot Teddy

Richard E. Collins, MD

The Cooking Cardiologist®

Susan Buckley, RD

South Denver Cardiology Associates

1000 SouthPark Drive

Littleton, CO 80120



The Hot Teddy is not a typo error for Hot Toddy. This version is non-alcoholic and uses tea in place of whiskey. It is just as effective. In fact, alcohol should be avoided with a cold as it is a depressant, does not “mix” well with OTC ingredients often in cold preparations…. anti-histamines, cough suppressants and analgesics. It also dehydrates when hydration is needed to loosen secretions.

Teddy’s key ingredients are honey, lemon, ginger and Echinacea. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to limit nausea, motion sickness, ease muscle aches and help as a decongestant, perfect for colds. Studies have confirmed that ginger inhibits the rhinovirus, the common cold virus.

Honey has also immune building agents and is a natural sweetener perfect for calming the throat and sparking energy. Lemon helps to break up the mucous, thinning secretions. It is also soothing on the throat when combined with honey…a perfect marriage.

Echinacea has antibiotic, antiviral and immune-enhancing properties. This Native American plant is a first-line treatment for colds and flu. The German Commission on Health recommends E purpurea as supportive therapy in colds and respiratory infections. The Hot Teddy uses Echinacea tea as the base. This recipe is for adults. Please consult your pediatrician for advice on your children.




1 cup organic Colorado honey

1 cup water

½ cup chopped fresh ginger, approximately a 6-inch stalk

Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, approximately 2 lemons

Yogi Echinacea tea, triple strength


In a small saucepan, add the honey, water, ginger and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and thicken mixture, approximately 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract flavors. Add the lemon juice. Cover and chill. The lemon/ginger/honey mixture may be stored refrigerated for up to 1 week.


Brew one cup of Echinacea tea according to directions. Add 2 ounces of the lemon/ginger/honey syrup, approximately 4 tablespoons. Steep and enjoy the cooling effect.





Richard E. Collins, MD

The Cooking Cardiologist®

Susan Buckley, RD

South Denver Cardiology Associates

1000 SouthPark Drive

Littleton, CO 80120


Soup is family, healing, and tastes of home. It is not a surprise that Chicken Noodle Soup is also medicinal. The properties of soup are not only warm and hydrating, but chicken noodle soup provides good liquid calories. While this century fat restrictors have only more recently removed fat, leave it in this soup for the symptom fighting benefits. Some researchers say it is the steam that fights the colds and congestion. A pulmonary researcher at The University of Nebraska studied the effect of this soup on white blood corpuscles, cells that fight germs. With the soup on board, those fighting neutrophils showed less chance to congregate, a factor for less inflammatory reaction. Yet, the cells were still able to affectively fight those germs. So bring on the flu season, but with a blanket, warm fire and a cup of grandmother’s chicken noodle soup.


1 whole roasted chicken, meat removed and bones saved

Cheesecloth and kitchen twine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 carrots, cut into 1/2" thick slices

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2" slices

2 fresh sprigs thyme

2 fresh sprigs rosemary

2 fresh sprigs oregano

2 fresh sprigs sage

1bay leaf

2 quarts organic reduced sodium chicken stock

2 quarts water

8-ounce package dried eggless extra wide pasta noodles

1 cup frozen spring peas

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish


In a large Dutch oven on medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 6 minutes until the vegetables are softened, but not browned. Prepare the chicken. Remove all meat, shred and place in a separate bowl. Open up a large double-layered cheesecloth on a large cookie sheet. Transfer the chicken bones to the cheesecloth. Place all herbs in the cheesecloth including bay leaf. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together and tie with kitchen twine.

In the Dutch oven, pour in the chicken broth and 2 quarts of water. Plunge in the wrapped chicken bones and herbs making sure that everything is submerged. If not, add more water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer with lid in place for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the entire chicken cheesecloth wrap to a large bowl. More liquid will drain. Add this to the chicken broth. Add the shredded chicken and the noodles. Bring to a boil. Cook until noodles are al dente, soft to the tooth. Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve steaming.


Serves 8. Serving size, 2 cups.

Nutritional analysis:

Total calories: 240, fat 6.7 g, carbohydrates 15.3 g, protein 27.1 g.

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