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The best and worst foods for a cold

By Sarah Klein for

Last week, I came down with what I now think is becoming my annual early-September cold (if two years in a row makes a trend).

I tucked myself in Monday night with the beginnings of a sore throat. After a restless night, I found my symptoms had escalated by Tuesday morning to a stuffy, runny nose, watery eyes and that telltale pressure headache unique to mucus-logged sinuses (sorry).

While it’s not even technically autumn yet, this is a prime time for colds: When the humidity drops, cold viruses can survive better, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the past couple of weeks have really felt like fall, not summer, and the sneezes sounding off all around our newsroom are proof enough for me.

I holed up in my bedroom for a couple of days, armed with tissues and tea. But even with nighttime meds, it took longer than I was expecting to get some much-needed relief from the sniffles.

There are over a billion colds in the U.S. every year, according to the National Institues of Health. Yes, a billion. So it’s not surprising that we all think we know what to do to kick a cold. Everyone I spoke to over the past few days asked me if I was eating or drinking something different—but what really works?

I chatted with Ilyse Schapiro, R.D., C.D.N., a registered dietitian in private practice in New York, about the best things to eat and drink when you have a cold—and a few things to stay away from.

Keep reading to find out what you should (and shouldn’t) eat when you start to sniffle…

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