Food, drink and supplements to help reduce virus symptoms

Late Autumn heralds the arrival of sniffles and coughs; children around the country, tired from school, are waking up with colds and sore throats. My family is no exception, and so I make sure my cupboards are stocked with foods and supplements that are natural antiviral agents.

Most coughs and colds are caused by a virus, so antibiotics aren’t needed (they just don’t work on viruses). If I’m concerned, I’ll check with the doctor for peace of mind. But the prognosis ‘it’s viral’ satisfies me. With a fever, reducing the temperature and remaining hydrated are important but otherwise ‘rest’ and ‘waiting for the virus to go’ seem the only options.

I find this waiting period very frustrating, and I feel a bit helpless, just watching and waiting for the day when the virus packs up its bags and disappears. Much television is involved, grumpiness from children (the ill one plus bored sibling), and general disruption to my daily routine – especially if days off school are involved. So I like to offer a little assistance in its onward journey.

When we’re mid-virus, we don’t really feel like eating – after all, the body is busy fighting off invaders (by generating a fever, for instance), so is naturally preoccupied. So although we know that fruits and veggies are rich in helpful phytonutrients, that Vitamin D and mushrooms can support the immune system, and that the right gut flora can prevent pathogens from taking hold in the first place, a general ‘immune boosting’ diet is too late to be of real significance when we’re laid up at home on the settee.

I normally start off with a comforting, easy to digest bowl of lentil dahl – which packs in a fair few anti-viral ingredients (including garlic, onion and turmeric) as well as immune supporting chicken stock, usually made into a soup. I go out of my way to include anti-viral coconut milk into soups, mild curries, smoothies or ice lollies.

I layer on fluids to rehydrate from a fever:

  • plain water or infused water
  • coconut water
  • warmed montmerency cherry cordial such as Cherry Active (sugar depresses the immune system so I avoid other sugary soft drinks)
  • honey, lemon slices and fresh ginger in warm water (also soothes a sore throat)

If it’s summer, I use our healthy ice lollies containing rehydrating watermelon and coconut water.

I’ll also add in a mixture of extra supplements:

  • UMF15+ Manuka honey
  • vitamin C  – research shows vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds but can shorten the length
  • zinc drops or lozenges
  • Vitamin D
  • probiotics
  • garlic or oregano oil
  • elderberry extract such as Sambucol

Read more about preventative winter remedies and check out our bug busting soups – butternut squash soup,  autumn soup and  cure a cold spicy soup. There are so many natural approaches to attacking a virus – and if it’s a virus that hangs around, or you succumb to them frequently then it’s worth having a chat with us in our clinic.

I’m personally too impatient to just wait around for the virus to leave of its own accord; using antiviral foods and supplements can really make a difference so I make full use of them wherever I can!