When you have the flu, you may not feel like eating or drinking. But, it’s essential to get the hydration and nutrients you need to recover. Broths, ginger tea, fruits, and oatmeal may be good choices.
You may not eat as much as usual with the flu, as you likely have a reduced appetite. Still, when you do eat, it’s best to opt for foods that provide you with the energy and nutrients you need to get you back on your feet.
Read on to learn more about the best things to eat and drink and what to avoid when you have seasonal flu.
Hydration is essential for your body to work properly.
A fever, sweating, and loss of appetite are common with the flu. As a result, you can easily become dehydrated.
When it comes to hydrating beverages, water is the best option. As well as providing fluid, it acts as a natural detox for your body. If you’re looking for something with more flavor, you can also drink:
- ginger tea
- herbal tea with honey
- honey and lemon tea (mix equal parts with hot water)
- 100% juices (look for products without added sugars)
Low-sugar sports drinks or other electrolyte-containing beverages, such as Pedialyte, may also help. However, you should only use Pedialyte under your doctor’s guidance.
Fruits and vegetables also contain water and can help prevent dehydration.
Eating the right foods gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to function, and this is just as important if you have the flu as when you are well.
Here are some tips on what to eat when you have the flu.
Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth are a soothing and nutritious choice from when symptoms begin 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 is traditionally thought of as a go-to food when you’re feeling sick. Though scientific evidence is lacking to back up its healing properties, it can be easy to stomach when you’re under the weather.
It also has nutritional benefits.
- The broth provides fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration.
- The chicken provides protein and zinc.
- Carrots are a good source of vitamin A.
- Celery and onions provide vitamin C
- Herbs contain antioxidants.
Garlic provides flavor and is a potential remedy for various ailments.
You can add garlic to food, use garlic supplements, or eat raw garlic to get its health benefits.
4. Vitamin D foods
Vitamin D is essential for bone health but it also
Foods containing vitamin D include:
- cod liver oil
- some fish, such as trout and salmon
- dairy milk
- fortified oat, almond, and soy milks
Yogurt is a good source of probiotics. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can help support the immune system.
When choosing yogurts, look for those that contain:
- live active cultures
- vitamin D
- little or no added sugar
6. Vitamin C-containing fruits and vegetables
Vitamin C is crucial for
Foods high in vitamin C include:
- red or green peppers
- oranges or 100% fresh orange juice
- grapefruit juice
- lemon juice
Vitamin C supplements are another option.
7. Leafy greens
Try adding leafy greens to a fruit smoothie, add them to soups, or eat them raw with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil.
Broccoli provides essential nutrients that
Consider eating broccoli on its own or adding it to soup.
Consider adding them to tea or hot water with lemon. They can also add flavor to a soup or broth.
Hot peppers and horseradish can also help clear sinus passages and alleviate mucus buildup.
When you’re sick with the flu, stay away from the following items:
- Alcohol. This causes dehydration and can lower your immune system.
- Fatty foods. Fried foods, pizza, and fast foods can be hard to digest.
- Excess simple sugars. Foods and drinks like candy, sweetened beverages, and some fruit juices can prolong diarrhea.
- Limit dairy intake. Milk and milk products contain the sugar lactose. Some people recovering from viral gastroenteritis may experience problems digesting lactose.
- Processed foods. Foods from fast food chains and ready meals contain fewer nutrients due to high levels of processing.
As an adult with the flu, when you have no appetite or energy, it can be difficult to eat nutritious foods and make sure you’re drinking enough fluids. This can be even more challenging for children.
A child is also more likely than an adult to become dehydrated because their lower body mass means they are more likely to lose fluids from a high fever.
Make sure you offer fluids to your child often. You can also offer popsicles to soothe a sore throat and help with hydration.
Eating a nutritious diet year-round is a great way to boost immunity, which may in turn help prevent flu. While there’s no specific immune-boosting diet, it may help to eat foods rich in various nutrients and antioxidants, such as:
- Vitamin C: Oranges, peppers, and grapefruit
- Vitamin D: Salmon, mushrooms, and fortified milk
- Zinc: Oysters, red meat, and fortified cereals
- Selenium: Seafood, eggs, and dairy
- Iron: Lean meat, white beans, and nuts
- Protein: Beans, nuts, and poultry
- Probiotics: Kefir, yogurt, and kimchi
- Prebiotics: Garlic, onions, and leeks
With a cold or the flu, it’s essential to stay hydrated, for example, by drinking plenty of water. Warm herbal teas and soups can provide antioxidants and other nutrients, and they can also soothe the throat.
Choose nutrient-dense foods that support the immune system, such as fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C.
As with a cold or the flu, you’ll need nutritious foods and to stay hydrated.
You may also want to spice up your food and drink a little if you have lost your sense of taste and smell. Choosing textures you enjoy can also make eating more pleasurable, even if you can’t taste much.
If you don’t have an appetite, try eating smaller meals more often and include carbs such as oatmeal or whole grains for energy.
If you have an upset stomach with diarrhea, vomiting, or both, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. Water, ginger tea, and oral rehydration solutions may help. You may have to take small sips regularly.
Probiotic yogurts may also help boost your intestinal health. Foods that are easy to digest, such as toast, are also a good option.
If you are unwell with a virus or upset stomach, it’s always best to steer clear of the following items, which have low nutritional value and may contribute to inflammation:
- fried or fatty foods
- added sugars
- highly processed foods
If you can eat when you’re sick, make sure you opt for nutrient-dense foods that will boost your overall wellbeing