Try these foods to tame the tickle
If you’ve ever fallen victim to a tickly cough you’ll know just how annoying they can be. But whilst it can often seem like they’re sole aim is to reduce you to little more than a watery-eyed mess, tickly coughs are your body’s way of reliving an irritation of the nerves lining your upper airways. Fortunately your diet can play an important role in remedying a tickly cough.
For centuries, honey has been used to relieve a tickly throat and scientists now believe that the reason lies in honey’s ability to act as an antioxidant and kill microbes. In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine,honey was more effective than dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications, at relieving the severity and frequency of a tickly cough.
Believe it or not, chocolate may also offer relief to that pesky cough. According to a study from London's Imperial College, theobromine, the naturally occurring chemical in cocoa, was more effective in supressing coughs than codeine, another common ingredient in cough medicine. Researchers believe that the sticky nature of cocoa helps form a coating to protect the nerve endings in the throat that trigger the urge to cough. Next time you feel the tickle, try sucking on a square of dark chocolate – the darker the chocolate the higher the theobromine content.
A staple for remedying colds and flu*, chicken soup has also been shown to contain a number of substances that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the upper respiratory tract, reliving symptoms such as coughs. According to the lead scientist, Dr Stephen Rennard, the chicken soup inhibits the movement of a type of white blood cell called neutrophils, which helps reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms.
An age-old cough remedy in Germany, thyme has traditionally been used to treat upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and coughs. Its tiny leaves are packed with cough-suppressant compounds such as flavonoids, which help relax the muscles involved in coughing, and also reduce inflammation. Try making a tea by mixing 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves in a cup of boiling water and steeping for 10 minutes before straining.
The Chinese swear by pears as an effective cough suppressant, and rightly so. In a study conducted in Singapore, dietary consumption of fibre rich pears was linked with reduced coughs and phlegm. By lubricating the throat and lungs, pears help dissolve phlegm and remedy a persistent cough. Other fruits in the study that were found to help with coughs were apples and grapes.