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Star foods: blackcurrant, carrot, chicken, chilli, garlic, ginger, guava, horseradish, lemon, lime, onion, orange, parsley, pea, squash, sweet potato

There are more than 200 known viruses that cause colds. This number is ever-growing as viruses are constantly mutating to create new strains that the body does not recognize. On average, children suffer from between six and ten colds a year, whereas adults suffer from between two and four colds over the same period.

How your child's body deals with a cold or, indeed, any viral infection, will be determined by the strength of her immune system and the foods that she eats during the course of the infection. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, pulses, lean meats and fish will strengthen your child's immune defences. Immune-boosting chicken broth helps to clear congestion and contains drug-like compounds very similar to the ones found in over-the-counter cold remedies.

Vitamin C and zinc have both been proved to reduce the severity and length of a cold. This is likely to be because vitamin C promotes the production of interferon - the body's natural antiviral agent. Zinc, particularly taken as a lozenge (available at chemists) seems to be highly effective at reducing the length of a cold as it appears to prevent the cold viruses from replicating.


Extracted from Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids by Lucy Burney, text 2004, published by Duncan Baird Publishers, London.


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