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You had me at ice cream.
When you have a sore throat, sometimes the last thing you want to do is eat. (Ugh, the pain!!) But when your body is in the throes of infection, it’s more important than ever to stay well-fed. “Nutrient-dense foods are a low-risk, high potential gain prescription,” says Cynthia Li, MD, author of Brave New Medicine. Basically, if you can muster up an appetite, definitely try to squeeze in as many nutrients as you can.
I’m going to level with you, though. These foods won’t cure your sore throat, per se: “The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection,” says Nate Favini, MD, chief medical officer at Forward. “The virus and your immune response to the virus cause the lining of your throat to become inflamed, which causes pain.”
There’s not a whole lot you can do about a viral infection, except ride it out and continue to stay hydrated. That being said, the foods you eat can definitely fast-track your healing. So, bonus points for soft, cooling snacks that could quell inflammation.
The first thing you should do is to always stay hydrated, says Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino, DO. “Water can thin any sort of mucus secretions that might be occurring, and it can also help with the hydration of the throat and keep it moist,” she explains.
Other than water, Tolentino also recommends warm liquids like broths and teas—they’re easy to swallow and soothing. You should also try to eat mostly soft foods when you have a sore throat, so as to not aggravate the delicate throat lining, so think blander options like yogurt, oatmeal, and Jell-O.

“You should stay away from crunchy and acidic foods when you have a sore throat because these can create tenderness around the throat area, which is already painful to begin with,” says Tolentino. “So things like crackers, coffee, and alcohol are all off-limits.”
Oftentimes, these types of foods can also cause acid reflux, which can aggravate already sore throats. Spicy foods like specific sauces and seasonings with chilies and cayenne will also be irritating to the throat since they can affect the throat lining. “For people with specific allergies or acid reflux, certain foods like dairy can also increase mucus production and even tomatoes for some,” adds Tolentino. So she recommends determining the cause of your throat pain early, ideally with the help of a doctor.
There are several natural and over-the-counter remedies available to help heal a sore throat, but not all of them are the healthiest, according to Tolentino. “I don’t particularly love over-the-counter cough syrups and tablets because I think they sometimes add other ingredients, like artificial colors and sweeteners, that aren’t the best and could cause other issues,” says Tolentino. Instead, she recommends the below home remedies and natural options:
But first things first, make sure you fuel up. Try these 10 doctor-approved foods next time you’re laid up in bed wondering what to eat with a sore throat.
Sore throats are the result of inflammation and dehydration, explains Dr. Li. “Fluids like the broth in chicken soup not only replenish lost water, but the salt helps your body retain the fluid inside the tissues,” she says. The same rings true for virtually any broth—vegetable will do if you’re vegan.
Honey has been a mainstay in medicinal remedies since ancient times, and for good reason. “Modern science has shown Manuka honey to be effective against a variety of infections, both bacterial and viral, including those that cause the common cold, as well as some Strep species,” says Dr. Li.
Just don’t go overboard: “In larger doses, [its sugar content] can suppress the immune system from doing its job,” she says.
“Yogurt is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as well as probiotic bacteria, the beneficial germs that support immune function and keep harmful germs from taking hold in our bodies,” says Dr. Li.
She says there might be a link between yogurt consumption and reduced rates of respiratory infections and ear pain. “Beyond that, the cool and soft textures of yogurt make it an easy food to swallow when nothing else soothes,” says Dr. Li.
Leave the skin on the potatoes while mashing for a rich source of magnesium, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which all support a strong immune system. A word to the wise: Make sure your mashed potatoes aren’t too hot, since that could irritate your throat even further, Dr. Favini says.
Eggs have a pretty innocuous texture, but preparing them scrambled makes them especially palatable. What’s more, Dr. Li says eggs are rich in minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium, as well as vitamin D and B12, which can help fend off the nasty infection that’s causing your sore throat.
“In general, the best foods to eat when you have a sore throat are foods with a soft texture, which won’t further irritate you,” says Dr. Favini. So yep, oatmeal definitely qualifies.
Dr. Li says oatmeal is rich in magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, which kickstart the body’s detoxification processes, then rid the body of waste and infection.
“Ginger has been shown in lab experiments to have analgesic [pain-reducing], antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Li. “It also appears to inhibit the growth of certain harmful strains of bacteria.”
In a study published in Nutrition Journal, the combination of ginger and honey proved to be more effective than either alone. Dr. Li adds that since many sore throats are accompanied by postnasal drip, which can irritate the stomach and induce nausea, “ginger’s best-established property, [which is] fending off nausea, is another compelling reason to give it a try.”
Dr. Li says that Jell-O is a decent option when you have a sore throat. Keep tabs on the sugar content, however, since high-sugar treats can suppress the immune system from fighting off infections or repairing damaged tissues, she says.
Smoothies are a great way to pack in a whole salad’s worth of produce in a few sips. Dr. Li suggests sticking to ingredients like kale, celery, and berries, which are low in sugar and high in disease-fighting antioxidants.
Instead of using orange juice as your base, use water along with a whole orange or tangerine, which contains insulin-regulating fiber, in addition to over a day’s worth of vitamin C.
“For people with sore throats from a viral infection, I often recommend a high dose of vitamin C of up to 3,000 milligrams daily to boost the immune system and help you recover more quickly,” says Dr. Favini. Bonus points for extra crushed ice to soothe your throat even more.
Dr. Favini says cold foods like ice cream “can be particularly good because they help soothe the sore throat and may even reduce the inflammation.” Just remember not to go too buck wild with the sugar.

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