Winter in Athens is a time where many enjoy festive decorations, action-packed football games, decadent cookies and pies and spending time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also prime cold and flu season. You take the good with the bad, right? One of the first signs of a respiratory virus is a sore throat. This causes pain and discomfort, but there are certain foods you can eat that will provide nourishment and might even speed up the healing process.
Moms (and Grandmothers) Know Best
They say you are what you eat. We don’t know if that’s true, but what you eat can make a difference when you’re sick. Your appetite might be lacking when you’re suffering from a sore throat, but it’s important to stay nourished. Feed a cold, starve a fever, right? If your mom ever uttered that phrase, she’s actually onto something.
What foods help a sore throat?
Your Athens ENT doctor recommends the following foods when you have a sore throat.
- Chicken soup. This favorite grandma go-to isn’t only good for the soul, it helps rejuvenate the body, too. The broth in chicken soup provides soothing relief when you have a sore throat and helps boost white blood cells called neutrophils, which help the immune system fight infection. The hot fluid helps keep you hydrated and encourages drainage of nasal mucus, speeding up your recovery time, and the salt aids in fluid retention in the tissues.
- Honey. Honey is highly viscous, meaning its thick and sticky texture serves as a barrier against viral and bacterial infections. It’s rich in antioxidants and contains nutrients that can help you recover from illness faster. Don’t overdo it, though; honey does contain high concentrations of sugar, which could counteract its benefits.
- Yogurt. Soft, creamy, cool foods offer soothing relief for a sore throat, making yogurt an excellent choice when you’re sick. It contains ingredients such as protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and probiotic bacteria that give the immune system a boost and help fight off disease.
- Mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes often take center stage during the holidays, and deserve a place at your table when you’re suffering from a sore throat, as well. They have a soft texture and nourishing ingredients that help your immune system ward off disease. Leave the skin on when mashing them; it’s chock full of magnesium, vitamin C and antioxidants that will help you recover more quickly. Be sure to let them cool off before eating so you don’t irritate your throat.
- Eggs. Eggs are one of the most nutritious natural foods around. They contain important vitamins like D and B12, as well as minerals such as zinc, iron and selenium—all of which help fight infections. Best of all, there are many different ways to serve them, so you’ll never get bored with the same preparation. Serve them scrambled, soft boiled or over easy when you have a sore throat to ensure they are easy to swallow.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal’s reputation as a superfood is well-earned. With nutrition-packed ingredients like fiber, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants, simply placing a bowl of oatmeal on the table next to you will practically make germs flee from your body! OK, maybe not quite, but it is a great choice when you have a sore throat thanks to its soft texture and disease-fighting properties.
- Ginger. This Chinese root has been prized for its medicinal properties for centuries. Its benefits are no mystery to medical professionals, who recommend ginger as a nausea preventative. Its active ingredients have been proven to reduce pain and inflammation, too. A warm cup of ginger tea is delicious and provides soothing relief when you’ve got a sore throat. Add a little honey and you’ll provide your immune system with even more ammunition in its fight against infection.
- Jell-O. OK, maybe Jell-O isn’t quite as natural and healthy as some of the other foods that are on this list, but there’s a reason it’s served at hospitals everywhere: its smooth texture is easy to swallow and digest, perfect for when you’ve got a sore throat. Like honey, enjoy it in moderation.
- Ice cream. Ice cream is a time-honored treat for people who need something cold and soothing that won’t irritate the throat. It’s long been prescribed for patients who have had their tonsils removed, and is also an excellent choice for those suffering from sore throats. Limit yourself to a single scoop to prevent the high sugar content from keeping our immune system functioning optimally.
- Smoothies. Smoothies are a favorite of health-conscious folks everywhere for good reason: they are tasty, cool and refreshing, and can be an excellent nutritional choice when made with ingredients such as berries, citrus fruits and leafy greens, all of which will help you recover from illness a little faster.
Most sore throats clear up within a couple of days. If you have tried these foods and are still experiencing symptoms after a few days, schedule a visit with an Athens ENT doctor. You’ll want to make sure you aren’t suffering from something more serious, like a bacterial infection or strep throat.