Common Cold: 11 Natural Ways To Boost Immunity

12/21/2011 09:30 am ET | Updated Feb 20, 2012

Coldbusters -- Tips and Recipes to Chase Away Your Cold

We're smack dab in the middle of cold season, and if you're lucky you haven't yet succumbed to a cough, sneeze or sniffle. But if the winter woes of a cold already haunt you, don't call on antibiotics for help. The common cold is caused by a virus and antibiotics treat bacteria.

Luckily there is a natural way to shift your body into prevention gear and fire up your immune system with cold-busting foods. And a revved-up immune system can stave off much more than just a cold.

Antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense foods including whole fruits, vegetable, grains and omega-3 rich foods provide a diverse range of tastes and textures to appease the pickiest of eaters while packing a powerful punch to keep your immune system humming this winter or anytime. (And the fact that they can help to slow the aging process doesn't hurt either.)

Here are some potent cold-busting foods to top your next shopping list. Turn up the volume on your immune system to combat colds before they knock you out.

don't get sick

Additional Guidelines for Prevention

• Wash hands frequently -- this is the No. 1 form of cold transmission
• Avoid nutrient-poor foods, which are processed, refined, fried, including sugar, excess fat and salt
• Get plenty of rest
• Moderate exercise (or lay off for a couple days if you're feeling hammered)
• Minimize stress
• Optimal hydration -- drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever

Whether you're trying to stay at the top of your game, or you're already in the throes of a nasty cold, here are some recipes to tickle your palate while they chase away the chill.

Spiced Chicken Soup

Yield: 2 quarts

No noodles here -- a fragrant blend of spices punctuates this robust soup. For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with garbanzo beans or cubes of firm tofu.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped. peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup diced fire-roasted tomatoes or 1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (12-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, without stems


Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender but not brown, about 10 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not brown garlic.

Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add spices and cook until very fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in sweet potato and simmer for about 4 minutes. Add chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro

Sweet Ginger Tisane

Makes 4 servings (1 quart)

Tisane (pronounced tee-ZAHN) is an infusion of herbs, flowers, and/or fruit steeped in hot water. It doesn't contain tea and is usually caffeine-free. Ginger gives a spicy flavor to this soothing sipper.

4 cups water
1/4 cup grated, peeled ginger
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon dark honey
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

4 lemon slices

In a 2-quart saucepan combine water, ginger and lemon; bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add mint and zest; let steep for 5 minutes. Strain tisane; discard mint, zest and ginger. Stir in honey. Serve immediately.

Cheryl Forberg, RD is a James Beard award-winning chef, former nutritionist for NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and NYT bestselling author. Her latest book is "Flavor First" (Rodale). She lives on a farm in Napa, California. For plenty of scrumptious recipes, check out her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.