When you have a cold, some foods can help clear your airways and strengthen your immune system, while others can cause inflammation and make symptoms worse.

A bowl of steaming soup on the table and a cup of ginger tea are not the only meals you can dream about if you suffer from a cold (rhinopharyngitis). To support your immune system and fight viral infections even more effectively, learn to choose and avoid certain foods.

What foods to avoid when you have a cold?


You might want to crawl to the bottom of your couch, under a warm blanket, to watch a show while eating Tagada strawberries, but that's not a good idea. Sugar can cause inflammation in the body and weaken the white blood cells that are essential to fight infection. Candy, even unsweetened, can also cause transit problems. And artificial sweeteners sometimes trigger headaches. If you want to avoid adding diarrhea to your problems, stay away from sweets.

Simple carbohydrates

Do you dream of buttered toast or a good plate of pasta? Again, this is not the best solution. Refined carbohydrates are quickly broken down into sugar, resulting in the same increase in blood sugar levels as sweetened beverages and candy, with the same inflammatory effects. If you can't do without these products, opt for the full versions, which are digested more slowly.

Alcohol and caffeine

Like sugar, alcohol causes inflammation and weakens the white blood cells. It also has the double harmful effect of contributing to dehydration. Staying hydrated is essential when you are ill, because the mucous membranes in your nasal cavity are better able to eliminate a virus when they are moist. Being dehydrated during illness can also make muscle aches and pains worse. Caffeinated drinks can also speed up dehydration. Opt for water and herbal teas until recovery is complete.

What foods to choose when you have a cold?

Spicy foods

If you have a cold and your upper airways are blocked, spicy foods can help clear them. Chili pepper, hot sauce, mustard, ginger, garlic... you can give yourself a treat.

Be careful, however, if you feel a fragility in your stomach. Spicy foods may aggravate the symptoms, reminds the Reader's digest site.

Lean meats

Meat is rich in amino acids necessary for the production of our antibodies. And if we want to eat light, we choose the escalope, the lower shank, the rack of veal or the poultry breast.

Homemade chicken broth is particularly popular. The heat it gives off spreads to the respiratory tract when eaten, which helps dissolve mucus. 

Oily fish and seafood

Small fats (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, etc.), rich in omega-3, help strengthen our immunity. Indeed, long-chain fatty acids are important regulators of inflammation. They are precursors of certain molecules with inflammatory properties.

As for seafood, particularly oysters, they are rich in zinc, which optimizes the multiplication and differentiation of white blood cells, which are involved in the first line to neutralize pathogens. Zinc is also involved in other reactions that regulate inflammation.

Dairy products

Yoghurt, lassi, kefir ... bring probiotics that strengthen the intestinal flora. As the body's first line of defense, it interacts with 60% of our immune cells in the small intestine to produce certain antibodies.

Fatty dairy products, such as butter (max 10 g per day) or cheese (max 30 g per day)


Walnuts and hazelnuts are rich in B vitamins, which participate in the manufacture of our antibodies. Remember to include them in your menus.

Fruits and vegetables

Consume five servings a day, especially fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C (orange, strawberries, kiwi, melon, red peppers, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) which promote the migration of immune cells to infection sites to neutralize and/or eliminate microbes, and the production of antibodies. Also focus on fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin E (salsify, fennel, etc.), selenium (garlic, endive, onion, etc.) and carotenoids (carrot, mango, etc.).

However, avoid citrus fruits if you have stomach pain or nausea, as they can irritate the stomach lining. 

In partnership with WW

Banana, grape and even mango... Did you know that apart from avocado, all fruits and vegetables were on the food list at ZeroPoint™ at WW (formerly Weight Watchers)?! Indeed, they can be enjoyed until you feel full, as a snack or to finish a meal.  This makes it easier to fill up on vitamins, develop better habits and, why not, find a good idea for a "healthy" snack!  Be careful though, dried fruits have a SmartPoints® value (at WW, the complex nutritional data is transformed into a simple number), as do smoothies, fruit juices and canned fruit in syrup. Therefore, it is important to remain vigilant and monitor your consumption.