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With winter here, sniffles, colds and flu are on the increase. The good news is that there are some tried and tested flu-fighting foods and remedies that can help ease the symptoms.

Instead of battling with winter colds and flu, try using these natural remedies and flu-fighting foods  to overcome these ailments and boost your and your family’s immune system.

When it comes to diet, there are a few flu-fighting foods that can help stave off the germs, or at least, soothe the symptoms.

Chicken Soup

It could be that popular flu-fighting chicken soup makes you feel better, just because of its comfort factor. But studies have found that it has anti-inflammatory properties, helping with sore throats, while also being a decongestant and keeping you hydrated. Scroll to the bottom of the article for a recipe.  Although chicken soup is the go-to for most people when colds and flu strike, any warm, nutritious soup is good – it’s easy on sore throats, warms the body and delivers oodles comfort, find some recipes for cold winter days here.

Garlic

Garlic’s natural antibiotic properties help to relieve the symptoms of colds and flus. It is also high in vitamin C. Garlic works best when raw, so you could always chew a garlic clove, which will have the added benefit of keeping everyone at bay and preventing the spread of germs. But if this doesn’t tickle your fancy, try adding it to stews, roasts or pastas. You can also try a gremolata as a zesty topping: mix together the juice and zest of a lemon, with a handful of chopped parsley, a clove or two of garlic and a splash of olive oil.

Ginger

This root may help ease sore and scratchy throats, while suppressing coughs and relieving congestion. Add grated ginger to a stirfry or steep a small amount to make a ginger and honey tea.

Honey

This wonder food is antibacterial and antimicrobial, which means it stops the growth of bacteria. Honey can also boost the immune system while helping to relieve sore throats. Try taking two teaspoons of honey before bedtime to relieve a cough. However, honey should not be given to children younger than one.

Rooibos tea, with honey and lemon, is a comforting drink that can also help remedy sore throats. Honey can also be used as a marinade for chicken or as a topping on fruit and yoghurt.

Horseradish, Wasabi, Mustard and Chillies

Any of these are great for clearing the sinuses. Chillies and red peppers are also a good source of vitamin C. Of course, getting children to eat and enjoy these may be a challenge.

Lemons

Another food high in vitamin C, lemons help to reduce phlegm, help sore throats and ease coughs. Used as part of a gargle, the acidity could also help eliminate germs.

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps to build up our natural defences and boosts the immune system. It may not be able to prevent or treat colds, but it can help shorten their duration.

Some other foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, guavas, fresh broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya.

Water and hot drinks

When winter ailments set in, we often feel congested and stuffy. Lots of fluids help to keep you hydrated, preventing this congestion. Hot drinks are especially good for decongestion and relieving cold and flu symptoms.

Find out how to identify and treat croup in younger children.

Jewish chicken soup recipe

Makes about 8 servings

What you need
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 chicken stock cube (you can add more depending on your taste)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method
  • Place the chicken into a large pot with the breast side down.
  • Fill with enough cold water to reach about 3 inches from the top of the pot.
  • Add the onion, carrot, parsley and celery. Then add the chicken stock cube.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, partially covered for 2 hours.
  • Skim any fat from the top of the soup. Partially cover, and simmer for another 2 hours for best flavour.
  • Strain the broth from the chicken soup. Return the broth to the pot.
  • Remove the bones and skin from the chicken and cut the chicken meat into pieces. Return to the soup (some people prefer to take out the chicken pieces, but that will leave you with thin soup).
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve chicken soup hot (we eat this with matzah balls and a dash of horse radish; you can also add noodles for a more filling option in winter).

This recipe comes from Stacey Gerber

Tamlyn Vincent