FILE - Lemon

It’s below zero, then it’s 40 degrees -- our poor bodies don’t know what to expect next! We rub shoulders with people at work or on the commute or the grocery store -- people who are coughing and sneezing. What are we to do to ward off the common cold?

We can fight back, that’s what we can do! Keep drinking water and maybe add a squeeze of lemon or lime for an extra antioxidant boost. Juice is good for you but limit it to 4-6 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice daily so you don’t take in excessive calories or sugar.

Look for grapefruit, oranges, clementines and berries at the market. They taste so good and provide the vitamin C that enhances immune defense and lowers the risk of infection. Don’t forget about all the deep-colored veggies like spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers. Eat plenty of those as well.

Exposure to sun in the winter is limited so we need to increase our intake of vitamin D through foods such as salmon, tuna, milk, yogurt and orange juice.

Probiotics, or friendly bacteria, help strengthen immunity. Some sources are yogurt which contains live, active cultures, kefir, miso soup, buttermilk and tempeh.

In addition to dairy and fish, we need the building blocks from protein like eggs, lean beef, poultry, pork and lamb. These all have the important immune system minerals of iron and zinc.

Almonds and sunflower seeds, high in vitamin E, also boost your immune system.

Gargling with warm salt water helps soothe a sore throat. And good ol’ chicken noodle soup (from Grandma’s day!) helps hydrate, plus gives you the warm fuzzies on a cold, winter day. 

When the common cold hits you after all is tried, then do your body a favor and hit the sack early and get the rest you need.

Some of the above tips are based on research by Melissa Widowik, assistant professor at Colorado State University Extension.

This is my go-to bedtime drink in the wintertime. I love the kick the cayenne gives!

Cold Buster Using Lemon & Ginger

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place juice, ginger, honey and cayenne into a teacup.

Pour boiling water over ingredients and stir.

Let steep 5 minutes.

Note: Strain before drinking. I confess to using bottled lemon juice when fresh lemons are not available. I’ve also used a fresh lime with good results. I use freeze dried ginger (Litehouse brand).

To help the fresh fruit go down try this dip!

Yogurt Fruit Dip

8-ounce carton lemon or strawberry yogurt

1/2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds, optional

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to blend.

— Utah State University Extension Service

Daily Herald reporter Karen Hoag can be reached at or (801) 344-2540.