Being sick with the flu is no fun. But if you keep your body well-fed, it can help your body recover from illness.
So, what are the best foods for flu?
It’s about introducing healthy vitamins and minerals into your body to keep your immune system strong as it fights the flu.
Hydration is most important
“The main key to helping your body stay fit to fight the flu is hydration,” said Mohammed S. Khan, MD, a primary care physician for OSF HealthCare.
A common symptom of the flu is fever, and your body responds to fever by trying to lower your body temperature through sweating. To avoid dehydration, and to keep your cells functioning properly, you need to replace the water you lose due to sweating.
You also lose electrolytes like sodium, calcium and potassium when you sweat. Beverages that have electrolytes – Gatorade and Pedialyte, for example – can help you hydrate more quickly than water.
Broths can also help you hydrate, while providing important nutrients and being easy on the stomach. Add some cooked chicken, noodles and vegetables to that broth and you’ve got a protein-rich chicken noodle soup to help you keep up your strength.
Hot tea can help you hydrate. Plus it can help soothe a sore throat.
When picking a drink, however, avoid drinks with caffeine or sugar, which can dehydrate you even more.
Foods to eat when sick
“Avoid things that can cause more problems, like spicy or fried foods,” Dr. Khan said. “Soups and broths can be helpful, and softer foods will be easier to handle. You want to eat healthy things that are easily digestible and not irritating to your stomach.”
Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C is a smart move. Vitamin C boosts your immune system, which is how your body naturally fights off infection.
Foods high in vitamin C
- Citrus fruits like oranges
- Leafy greens
- Brussels sprouts
If you’re feeling nauseous, following the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, apples and toast – may be your preference. The BRAT diet does not have as many nutrients as other food options, but it is easy on the stomach. If you are having trouble keeping food down, this might be the way to go.