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No matter the illness, there's a food for that

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POSTED: July 31, 2013 6:00 p.m.
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While not a cure, a comfort good such as tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich, can make you feel better when you are sick.

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Frequently, I get spam emails telling me about miracle foods that heal everything from the common cold to common ugliness. I file them with the messages I get from that nice old lady who wants to give me $850,000.
If just eating a particular fruit or veggie really gave our immune systems the power to kill cancer cells or our metabolism the means to burn off 20 pounds overnight, I’d eat it three times a day.
I agree there are foods and drinks that help us overcome or at least fight certain illnesses and injuries. And I’m not just talking about emotional support, like how a thick, juicy steak makes me feel much better, even when I’m not feeling bad.
A former coworker used to tell me how important chocolate was to her health. She explained how chocolate releases the endorphins in her brain, helping her relax and be more productive. I told her I felt the same way about barbecue, but she got mad and accused me of patronizing her. Not me. Barbecue really does help my brain feel better. That’s what I tell my wife and my doctor.
An old adage says you’re supposed to starve a fever and feed a cold. A doctor told me that was almost good advice. He said you should drink plenty of liquids when you have a fever and avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.
I don’t think you’re supposed to starve yourself when you’re already in a weakened state. I think fruits and fruit juices rich in vitamin C and raw vegetables filled with antioxidants would be OK when you have a fever.
Each time I broke a bone — and I’ve broken many — the doc would advise me to drink milk because I could use the extra calcium. He didn’t have to tell me that. I drink milk every day, especially with cookies.
Whenever I had a sore throat, Mama would give me clear, usually caffeine-free soft drinks, such as ginger ale, 7-Up or Sprite. I’m a big boy now, but when my throat feels like I’ve just swallowed a fistful of crushed glass, I’ll either take a zinc lozenge with vitamin C and echinacea, or I’ll drink a Squirt.
Squirt is a strong citrus drink made by the folks who make Dr. Pepper and Snapple. It’s hard to find in this area, but I get it in Statesboro and Kingsland or just about anywhere in Florida. It’s worth the drive. It does wonders for a sore throat, at least while you’re drinking it. Sometime I gargle with it, which makes the relief last longer.
None of the sages ever said what foods we’re supposed to eat when we have a cold. Conventional wisdom, though, says you’re supposed to have chicken-noodle soup. I read there is scientific evidence that chicken soup has medicinal value. I suspect too the hot soup going down your throat may help loosen congestion in your lungs and thus help you breath better.
I get similar relief for my sinuses by eating a bowl of spicy chili, hot wings or P.F. Chang’s sesame chicken.
I remember 54 years ago when I was about to have my tonsils taken out. They told me I could have all the ice cream I could eat. I couldn’t wait! The next morning, I realized I’d been tricked.
Then one of the nurses offered me some lime sherbet. I was back in business. To this day, I think it’s a good idea to keep some sherbet in the freezer during cold season. It won’t cure a cold or ugliness or anything else, but it always makes me feel better.

 

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