The Flu strikes fear into the hearts of almost everyone. It’s a miserable, debilitating illness that can last for days, with symptoms like fever, chills and body aches. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to prepare this easy-to-make recipe months in advance so you have it on hand when you need it.
Food For Flu
When you or a loved one has the flu, the last thing you may feel like doing is eating. It’s certainly okay to eat a little less with the flu, as you likely have a reduced appetite.
Still, you’ll need to eat small amounts of the right foods to provide you with energy and nutrients while you recover.
Read on to learn more about what you should eat and drink as well as what’s off-limits when you have the seasonal flu.
Food is what gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to function. Such effects are equally vital when you have the flu. Still, it’s all about eating the right foods for your condition.
Consider eating the following foods when you have the flu.
Whether you prefer chicken, beef, or vegetable, broth is one of the best things you can eat when you have the flu. You can eat it as soon as your symptoms begin and until you have fully recovered.
Broth helps prevent dehydration, and the warm elements can help soothe a sore throat and relieve congestion.
2. Chicken soup
Chicken soup combines the benefits of broth along with additional ingredients. Cut-up chicken provides your body with iron and protein, and you’ll also gain nutrients from carrots, herbs, and celery.
You can eat chicken soup throughout the duration of the flu to help keep you hydrated and satiated; just be sure to watch the salt content.
While you might think of garlic as a food-flavoring agent, it’s actually been used in alternative medicine for a variety of ailments for centuries. One study Trusted Source of garlic supplements in adults with the flu found enhanced immunity and reduced symptom severity.
You don’t necessarily have to take supplements, though. Eating raw garlic may also be beneficial. Due to the immune-enhancing effects, consider eating garlic at the first signs of the flu.
Yogurt with live cultures not only can help soothe a sore throat but can also boost your immune system, according to a study of mice reported in the journal International Immunopharmacology. Yogurt also contains protein.
You can eat yogurt while your throat is sore, but just be sure to choose whole yogurts without any added sugars.
5. Vitamin C–containing fruits
Vitamin C is an important nutrient to help boost your immune system, which is especially important when you’re sick. While supplements can help, your body can absorb nutrients like vitamin C more effectively from the foods you eat.
Consider snacking on vitamin C–rich fruits while you have the flu. Some fruits high in vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
6. Leafy greens
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens can also help boost your immune system when you have the flu. They have both vitamin C and vitamin E, another immune-enhancing nutrient.
Consider combining leafy greens with fruit in a smoothie, or eat them raw with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil. It’s best to eat these immune-boosting foods throughout the duration of your illness.
Broccoli is a nutrient powerhouse that can benefit your body when you have the flu. Eating just one serving will provide immune-boosting vitamins C and E, along with calcium and fiber.
Consider eating broccoli when your appetite returns toward the middle or end of the flu. You can also eat broccoli soup; just remember to check the sodium content.
When you’re sick, a hot bowl of oatmeal can be a soothing, nutritious food choice. Oatmeal, like other whole grains, is also a natural source of immune-boosting vitamin E. It also contains polyphenol antioxidants as well as immune-strengthening beta-glucan fiber.
Choose whole oats for the most benefits.
Toward the end of the flu, you might have increased sinus and chest congestion. Certain spices, such as pepper and horseradish, can help break up congestion so you can breathe better. However, avoid spicy foods when you have a sore throat.
What Should I Eat When I Have the Flu
If you have the flu, you may be wondering if there’s a special diet to help you feel better. After all, you’ve heard the old saying, “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” But what do you eat when you have both a fever and cold-like symptoms that come with the flu?
Of course, good nutrition is a must to help your immune system fight this virus. But when your body battles flu symptoms for days or even weeks, maintaining a healthy diet becomes even more important in helping you get better.
Do Foods Help Fight the Flu?
Even when you aren’t sick, you need protein to keep your body strong. Your body uses it to build strength and keep what you already have. Lean meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds are good sources.
The FDA says adults should eat 50 grams of protein a day (but can vary depending on an individual’s caloric needs). Pregnant and nursing women need more. Foods that have it provide nutrients like vitamins B6 and B12, both of which keep your immune system working like it should. Vitamin B6 comes in protein-rich foods like turkey and beans, as well as potatoes, spinach, and enriched cereal grains. Meats, milk, and fish also contain vitamin B12, a powerful immune booster.
Minerals like selenium and zinc also keep your immune system going strong. These minerals are found in protein-rich foods like beans, nuts, meat, and poultry.
Do Flavonoids Help?
Flavonoids include about 4,000 compounds that are responsible for the colors of fruits and flowers. Research shows that flavonoids found in the soft white skin of citrus fruits — like grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes — may boost your immune system. Many other fruits have anti-inflammatory properties, too.
What Other Nutrients Fight Infection?
Glutathione may strengthen your immune system so it can fight off infections. You’ll find this powerful antioxidant in the red, pulpy area of a watermelon near the rind. It’s also in kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage.
Does Food Help or Hurt Congestion?
Any food or beverage is fine if you’re hungry or thirsty. Dairy products make some people produce more mucus. If this happens to you, avoid dairy for a few days. They may also make nausea and vomiting worse.
Orange juice, especially with the pulp, is packed with vitamin C and folic acid, which may give your immune system a boost and help you feel better faster.