Having a cold is such a bummer. Often times you feel miserable, but continue to push yourself through daily life, hoping the coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and waterfalls of mucus (yeah, that's not pretty) will end ASAP. While many things contribute to the severity and length of a cold, there are certain things you can do and eat when you can't get over a cold that can make you feel better.

First, Here's What Doesn't Help:

Increasing Your Vitamin C Intake

candy, sweet, dairy product, cake mix, milk, chocolate, spam, goody
Ari Richman

If you've ever had a cold, you've probably had someone tell you to make sure you're getting enough vitamin C. While vitamin C is important if you are under physiological stress, and being deficient may increase your susceptibility to getting or staying sick, consuming excessive amounts of vitamin C is unnecessary and ineffective in reducing the length of a cold.

Smokers require slightly more vitamin C (an extra 35mg), as do people under sever physical stress (like marathon runners), but for most people, 75-90mg per day is enough. Because vitamin C is water-soluble, if you consume more than your body's daily requirement, you will simply pee out the rest.

juice, sweet, cocktail, orange juice, smoothie, ice, milk, orange squash
Jocelyn Hsu

Vitamin C deficiency is rare in the United States. As long as you consume some fruits and vegetable products, you probably get enough. A single cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, one large orange, a cup of strawberries, a cup of Brussels sprouts, a couple of kiwis, and a cup of broccoli, each contain more than an entire day's requirement for vitamin C. 

Not to mention, studies on increased vitamin C consumption have shown no significant effects on the length of the common cold. So put down that packet of Emergen-C (which, by the way, contains half the toxic dose of vitamin C per serving), and stop chugging OJ. 

Taking Echinacea

This herbal supplement is often taken in hopes of curing the common cold, and it has actually shown very slight beneficial effects in some studies. However, there is not enough robust or consistent data to actually recommend and confidently say it will help you stave off a cold. 

Eating Garlic

garlic, vegetable, condiment, elephant garlic, relish, pasture
Kristine Mahan

Another food that's commonly consumed in hopes of ending a cold is garlic. Scientists have studied the effects of garlic supplements on cold length, and have found weak or unconvincing evidence that it works.

While it can't hurt to add garlic to your foods when you have a cold—it they may help enhance flavors which often get muted when you're congested—don't think it will lead to any miracles. 

Avoiding Dairy

water, tea, milk
Alex Frank

There has long been a belief that milk increases mucus production, however, research shows that there is no significant impact of dairy consumption on the production of mucus or the duration of a cold. So if you're debating whether or not you should consume dairy during your cold, have a glass if you want to rather than believe this old wive's tale. 

Next, Here's What Could Help:

Taking Zinc

juice, vegetable, sweet
Drew Stafford

The impact of zinc supplementation on the duration and severity of common colds has been studied rigorously. Some studies do suggest that high doses of zinc supplementation every few hours, especially if administered within 24 hours of symptom onset, can lead to a slightly shorter duration of the common cold in adults.

However, other studies do not show significant effects. And actually, prolonged high doses of zinc supplements may cause nausea and other sides effects, so more research needs to be done before a robust recommendation is made. 

Eating Pre and Pro-biotics, and High-Fiber Foods

Sarah Haselhorst

More and more research suggests the microbiome (the bacteria living in your intestines) is the epicenter of many things health-related. Therefore, maintaining healthy gut flora is important for immune function, which may impact the frequency and duration of illness you experience.

You can feed your microbiome certain foods to keep it in optimal condition. High-fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, and whole grains, give your gut bacteria stuff to feed on, which helps them thrive.

Pre and pro-biotic foods are also associated with good gut health. Fermented foods like pickles, kombucha, and kimchi are all good for your gut. Avoiding highly processed fast and junk foods is also considered GI-friendly. 

But while chugging booch won't necessarily make your current cold go away any faster, taking good care of your intestinal flora may help you avoid and fight off incoming colds in the future. 

Staying Hydrated

water, beer, iced water, ice, glass, water cup
Jocelyn Hsu

Although the age-old advice that drinking fluids will help you get over a cold has not been completely validated by scientists, being dehydrated is never a good idea. It certainly will not help you feel better when you're full of snot. Getting enough fluid is always important for feeling and functioning your best.

You can get fluid from water, coffee, teas, and other liquid beverages, as well as from high-water content containing foods, including soups and many fruits and vegetables.

Melons, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, grapefruit, salad greens, applesauce, popsicles, berries, grapes, and soups are all super-hydrating snacks to incorporate in your diet. Plus, most of them are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemical, which can all help keep you healthy.

Now, Here's What WILL Help You Get Over Your Cold Faster:

Eating Enough

meat, vegetable, rice, pork, soup, porridge
Christin Urso

Sometimes it's hard to eat when you're feeling stuffy and nauseous. But adequate fuel is essential to help your body fight off illness. 

Eat a balanced diet that includes fat, carbs, and protein for optimal energy. Even if you don't feel like eating much, your body still needs calories to carry out everyday processes like breathing and thinking.  

If you have no appetite whatsoever, try to at least get a little fuel in your body by making a smoothie, eating some soup, or bulking up the calorie count on foods like oatmeal with an extra scoop or two of nut butter. 

A Robust, Nutritious Diet

vegetable, carrot, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, pepper, broccoli, salad
Christin Urso

In addition to getting enough calories, it's important to try to strive to get the proper amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs to heal. 

While excess amounts of supplemental micronutrients are unnecessary, getting enough vitamins and minerals from foods naturally can ensure your body is functioning at its best. Getting nutrients from food is best for absorption and utilization. 

Fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can help your body quench damaging free-radicals in the body, and devote energy to fighting off illness.

orange, peeling, Peel, orange peel, peeling orange, citrus, Fruit, snack
Jocelyn Hsu

There are a lot of myths and old wive's tails out there about specific foods to eat and beverages to drink to get over the common cold, and most of them are more fiction than truth.

The best things you can do for a cold is rest, take care of yourself, and do what feels good for your body. And maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle will always help. 

#SpoonTip: Please note that although I am educated in nutrition (I have my MS from Columbia), I am not your healthcare provider. Please consult your doctor for personalized treatment of illness or injury.