Common cold during pregnancy. What to add to your diet?

Common cold is one of the most common infectious diseases among people. Typical symptoms of the common cold are cough, runny nose, hoarseness, sore throat, headache and fatigue. You can live with that but it will certain lower the quality of your well being and your mood. The symptoms usually disappear within a week, but may persist for a little longer. Common cold are caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not help.

During pregnancy, which lasts for nine months is a strong possibility that we'll catch some infections. Adults usually have common cold symptoms about twice a year. Of course, every pregnant woman will have big doubts about taking medications and rather search for some alternatives like homemade remedies. What to take and what might help treating colds? Below you can find all informations you need. 


Garlic is traditionally use to treat colds all over the world. It has antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial properties. Garlic can also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure, may slow the development of atherosclerosis, acts as an anticoagulant. Some studies even indicate anticancer and immunomodulatory properties. The mechanism of action of garlic as an antimicrobial, antiviral are not completely understood. However, it is known that garlic kills rhinovirus and viruses Parainfluenza-3. Its derivatives include alliin (sulfur-containing amino acid), considered a precursor of the smell and taste of garlic. One gram of fresh garlic contains about 4.38 to 4,65mg of allicin. In a study conducted by the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group completed in 2014 shows that people who supplemented alliacin compared to placebo suffered common cold lower number of sick days in the year.

It is safe to eat garlic during pregnancy, of course if mother has no allergy to garlic or hasn't got other medical condition. Side effects are mainly the odor from the mouth, possible rash, heartburn. Additionally garlic can reduce the risk of premature birth. Also can reduce hypertension but it will not prevent pre-eclampsia.

I also wondered whether the child in the womb can feel the taste of garlic. I found a few studies about this topic. The first was carried out on a group of 10 women. Half of them have been given a capsule containing garlic oil while the remaining have taken placebo. Thereafter amniotic fluid has been compared according to scent. Women's water that have consumed garlic had a stronger smell. The second study concerned the impact of maternal diet in pregnancy (exact consumption of garlic) and later food preferences of children. In the sample studied children aged 8-9 years, women who are pregnant took garlic. Children are given potato casserole with garlic and without. Children prefer casserole with garlic.

Spicy foods

Surely you have noticed that eating spicy foods, horseradish and mustard gets you hot, running nose or you begin to sweat. Why not try then spicy food to treat common cold? When you eat spicy food it will irritate nerve endings in the digestive tract, which send signals to the brain to thinning mucus in the airways which now can be easily removed. Scientific studies confirm the efficacy of capsaicin in chilli treat non-allergic rhinitis

There is some belief that spicy foods can trigger uterine contractions and labor, so probably 40 weeks (or more) pregnant will be looking to eat spicy meals. However, researches are unclear and it is possible that contractions can be caused by other factors. Spicy foods can cause indigestion in pregnancy therefore eat it with common sense. If you feel good after eating something spicy I don't see problem why you should stop eating it. Think about that, for example. In India women consume large quantities of spices including very very hot spices. I suspect that they do not significantly moderate their diet during pregnancy and do not feel the negative effects of eating spicy meals.

Chicken broth

Chicken broth - hot, comfy and tasty. The best to drink when you have cold. In 2000 the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied the effects of drinking broth to treat the common cold. They found that some components inhibit migration of granulocytes, which may have anti-inflammatory activity. However, the study was carried out on purified cells by which the effect of the research is debatable. Also it showed that chicken broth comprises an amino acid - cysteine, which is very similar to acetylcysteine, which is used by doctors to treat bronchitis or other respiratory diseases. Acetylcysteine ​​can be obtained from of chicken feathers and skin. Pharmacologically Acetylcysteine ​​as other mucolytics thins mucus and facilitates expectoration. In clinical laboratory broth inhibited the migration of white blood cells, neutrophils, which are involved in lung tissue response to various infections. It manifests itself cough and increased secretion of bronchial mucus. They found that the soup has the ability to inhibit those reaction even when it was diluted.

Vitamin C

The effects of vitamin C on the common cold has been repeatedly tested as it was quite controversial. Unfortunately it has been shown that vitamin C suplementation is not effective as prevention of colds. However, it has been shown that consumption of Vitamin C may reduce the duration of the common cold in adults and in children. They do not reduce the severity of colds. Therefore, if we don't feel very well we might try to drink or eat something that contains a lot of vitamin C. The sources of ascorbic acid are: acerola, wild rose, green chilli, parsley, black currant, peppers,  sprouts, kale, strawberries, spinach, oranges and lemons. It should be noted that the lemon is about half of vitamin C per 100 g than red peppers. Vitamin C is lost at high temperatures so it is best to eat it cold and not peeling vegetables or fruit.


Used many times by our mothers and grandmothers during colds. It turns out that quite rightly because honey is effective in treating the symptoms associated with common colds. World Health Organisation recommends honey as a remedy for cough and sore throat. Honey should not be given to children under one year old - it is associated with botulism. The risk is very low (in the UK was reported only 6 cases from 1976 to 2006) but there are no contraindications for pregnant women to not eat it. Also remember to not heat up honey because we can lose all the beneficial properties.

  1. Elizabeth Lissiman, Alice L Bhasale, Marc Cohen (2014), "Garlic for the common cold" The Cochrane Library  DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006206.pub4
  2. Aalami-Harandi R, Karamali M, Asemi Z The favorable effects of garlic intake on metabolic profiles, hs-CRP, biomarkers of oxidative stress and pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. DOI: 10.3109/14767058.2014.977248
  3. Mennella JA, Johnson A, Beauchamp GK. Garlic ingestion by pregnant women alters the odor of amniotic luid.  PMID:7583013
  4. Hepper PG, Wells DL, Dornan JC, Lynch C.Long-term flavor recognition in humans with prenatal garlic experience. PMID:22753112 DOI:10.1002/dev.21059
  5. Artur Gevorgyan, Christine Segboer, Rob Gorissen, Cornelis M van Drunen, Wytske Fokkens Capsaicin for non-allergic rhinitis  DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010591.pub2
  6.  Kathryn A. Heimer MS, APRN, NP-C, Ann Marie Hart PhD, RN, FNP, Linda Gore Martin PharmD, MBA, BCPS,Sherrie Rubio-Wallace MS, RN, FNP-C Examining the evidence for the use of vitamin C in the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2009.00409.x

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