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  • By Jane Hart, MD

Are Fruits and Veggies the Key to Easing Cold Symptoms?

Advice to eat a balanced diet may hold new meaning for people trying to fight off the common cold, as a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that taking a dietary supplement of powdered fruits and veggies eased the severity of cold symptoms in healthcare workers by as much as 20%.

Reseach found that a dietary supplement of powdered fruits & vegetables eased cold-symptom severity by up to 20%

Supplement eases severe cold symptoms

In this study, 529 healthcare workers (who are, by profession, particularly susceptible to colds) were randomly assigned to four capsules of a dietary supplement (Juice Plus+® juice powder concentrates from fruits and vegetables) or placebo, daily for eight months. The participants kept a diary of cold symptoms for six months following the intervention.

Results found that the average number of days with moderate or severe cold symptoms was 20% lower in the dietary supplement group compared with the placebo group, and people in the supplement group also reported fewer days of taking cold medicine. People in either group did not have fewer colds, and there was no difference in the total number of days with any cold symptoms between the two groups.

So while the quest for a cure for the common cold continues, the authors comment, “Given the widespread utilization of concentrated dietary products, the present study has potentially important public health relevance. To our knowledge, it is the first randomized investigation focusing on the benefits of juice powder concentrate in subjects particularly exposed to patient contact.” It should be noted that this study was funded by the makers of Juice Plus. Further research on this important topic is needed.

Tips for preventing a cold

  • Get enough rest. Sleep is essential for our health and well-being and getting a good night's rest every night or almost every night is a good first step in helping to prevent infections, including colds.
  • Live a balanced and healthy life. A nutritious diet including an abundance of fruits and veggies is essential for keeping our immune system working properly and for our ability to fight off infection. Avoiding bad habits such as smoking and drinking too much is also important in efforts to remain healthy. Regular exercise is critical for keeping the body fine-tuned to ward off illness.
  • Cover your mouth and wash your hands. Healthcare workers are particularly trained to wash their hands before and after contact with sick people, and the general public should wash their hands after using the restroom or interacting with people who are sick with a cold or the flu. When possible, steer clear of friends and colleagues who are in the first couple of days of having a cold, which is when they are most contagious, and if you are sick remember to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands frequently.

(Br J Nutr 2011;105:118–22)

Jane Hart, MD

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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