Foods and Spices for Respiratory Infections

One of our most popular blogs is ‘Foods for keeping your lungs healthy’, so we thought we’d give it an update and keep you posted with new information coming through that looks at how seven everyday foods and spices could help those with breathing problems avoid respiratory infection during the cold, winter months.

Please note however that this is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please always seek advice from your physician or health provider regarding a medical condition.


Echinacea is now one of the most popular supplements in Europe for fighting respiratory infections such as the common cold. Evidence shows that while it doesn’t prevent you getting a cold, it might help as a treatment in reducing the severity of cold and flu symptoms.


There appears to be evidence that elderberry boosts the production of some immune cells and may also unblock the flu virus’s ability to spread. Elderberry ranks among the most effective remedies for treating respiratory illness. In fact a study published in the journal ‘Phytochemsitry’ (2009) showed black elderberry extract to be at least 68% effective against swine flu (H1N1).


Garlic has been used for centuries as an immune booster and natural remedy for respiratory disorders. It contains medicinal compounds, including allicin and sulphur-containing compounds that ward of disease. One systematic review study found that fewer people taking a garlic supplement went on to have a cold when compared to people taking a placebo. Garlic is used quite a lot in cooking, but if you’re not keen on the taste, you can also buy it in supplement form.


Because ginger is packed with antiviral compounds, it’s excellent at preventing as well as treating respiratory ailments as it ‘disinfects’ the body. And ginger is so easy to add into your diet, as a tea or simply added freshly chopped to your food.


Oregano, more specifically oil of oregano has been shown to work well at treating respiratory illness after it has already developed, and is considered a potent antibiotic and antiviral herb. Be careful and always check side effects and interactions.

Vitamin D

It has come to light recently (pardon the pun) that we in the UK are lacking vitamin D. The low levels of sunlight combined with covering ourselves in sun protection cream when the sun does come out, have resulted in this vitamin D deficiency. Such low levels have been shown to cause chronic illness, including respiratory illness.

You can learn more about government advice on vitamin D supplementation by visiting Pulse – At the heart of general practice since 1960

Vitamin C

As children we’ve all been told to eat an orange as it contains vitamin C which is a powerful nutrient for boosting immunity and warding off colds. There was a study conducted in Finland (2004) which found that respiratory patients who took vitamin C supplements were less likely to develop respiratory infections including pneumonia and the common cold. Try to take natural vitamin C that comes from ‘superfoods’ such as acerola cherry.

You can also help keep your lungs healthy by making them stronger and more resistant to fatigue, which in turn could help them fight off infection. POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training exercises your breathing muscles, improving their strength and stamina.

If you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma or COPD, then you could benefit from using POWERbreathe Level 1 (LR). It features an adjustable, light resistance for you to breathe against, and as your breathing strength improves, you simply turn up the resistance. Choose from the following models:

Everyone can benefit from stronger breathing muscles, not just people with breathing problems, and there is a POWERbreathe to suit everyone. We’ve listed the models above that would best suit people with breathing difficulties, and for those who don’t have a breathing problem you can choose from:

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