The right foods to eat when you’re sick can do so much more than give you energy. They can help you feel better, get better faster, or stay hydrated as you recover.
When you’re under the weather, eating may be one of the last things on your mind. However, the following 15 foods can support your recovery.
Chicken soup has been a go-to for sickness for generations — and for good reason. It’s an easy-to-eat source of vitamins, minerals, calories, and protein, which are nutrients your body
The soup’s warmth may help
Homemade chicken soup made from bone broth is also rich in collagen and nutrients that may help promote recovery — although there’s not enough research on bone broth’s effects on immune health to back up these claims.
Like chicken soup, broths are excellent sources of fluid and electrolytes that can be helpful when you’re sick. When hot, they may also help relieve sinus congestion.
They’re full of flavor and rich in various nutrients while still being easy on your digestive system.
If you need to follow a salt-restricted diet, choose low sodium or no-salt-added broths if buying premade broths from the grocery store.
Garlic provides many health benefits and has been used in herbal medicine for centuries.
Test-tube and animal
Adding garlic to food when you’re sick can both add flavor and make your food even more effective at fighting off cold or flu symptoms.
Coconut water is an ideal beverage to sip on when you’re sick. It’s
It also contains a bit of natural sugar from the fruit itself, which can serve as a quick, easy-to-use energy source for your body.
Tea is a favorite remedy for many colds and flu symptoms.
Just like chicken soup, hot tea acts as a natural decongestant. The tea needs to be hot to help relieve congestion, but it shouldn’t be so hot that it further irritates your throat.
This means sipping on tea throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated while relieving congestion.
Honey may also stimulate your immune system. Many people use local raw honey to relieve seasonal allergies, but there’s currently
Additionally, honey may help suppress cough in children. However, it shouldn’t be given to children under
Ginger is widely used in food, herbal medicine, and home remedies. It’s probably best known for its anti-nausea effects.
So if you’re feeling nauseous or throwing up, ginger is one of the best natural remedies to relieve these symptoms.
Use fresh ginger in cooking, brew some ginger tea, or pick up some ginger ale from the store to get these benefits. Just make sure that whatever you’re using contains real ginger or ginger extract, not just ginger flavor.
Spicy foods like chili peppers contain capsaicin, which causes a hot, burning sensation when touched.
In high enough concentrations,
Many people report that eating spicy foods causes a runny nose, breaking up mucus and clearing out the sinus passages.
While few studies have tested this effect, capsaicin does seem to thin out mucus, making it easier to expel.
Bananas are a great food to eat when you’re sick. They’re soft and bland but
Another benefit of bananas is the soluble fiber they contain. Soluble fiber becomes a gel in the presence of liquid, so it can help
Like bananas, oatmeal is bland and easy to eat but also provides calories, vitamins, and minerals you need when you’re sick.
Instead of buying artificially flavored oatmeal with lots of added sugar, consider adding a small amount of honey or fruit to rolled or steel-cut oats for even more health benefits.
Yogurt contains beneficial probiotics, which are strains of bacteria that can colonize in your gut and provide health benefits.
However, some people report that dairy intake thickens their mucus secretions, which can be compounded when you’re sick.
Fruits are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which can support your overall health and immune function.
Some fruits contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give certain fruits — like strawberries and blueberries — their red and blue colors.
Anthocyanins make berries excellent foods to eat when sick because they have strong anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting effects.
Studies show that fruit extracts high in anthocyanins can prevent common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells. They also stimulate your body’s immune response.
Add some fruit to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt for more health benefits, or blend frozen fruit into a cold smoothie that soothes your throat.
They’re a great food to eat when sick because they provide calories, vitamins, and minerals your body needs. They’re also soft, relatively bland, and easy to eat.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re especially
Dark green vegetables are also
Add spinach to an omelet for a quick, nutrient-packed, protein-rich meal. You can also try tossing a handful of kale into a fruit smoothie. Most leafy greens also make excellent additions to soup, which is another great choice when you’re sick.
What are the best foods for kids when they’re sick?
Children often have a different taste palate than adults. While the principles are the same for kids — stay hydrated and nourished — some of the food choices may differ. It’s essential they replenish their nutrients, so it’s most important to select foods they will eat.
Discover a dietitian’s pick for the best foods to give your child when they’re sick.
Ultimately, what’s best for you to eat and drink will depend on your specific illness and symptoms. Here are some common questions about specific situations.
What foods should I eat if I’m feeling sick to my stomach?
What should I eat and drink when sick with the flu?
Many of the options mentioned above, like broths and fruits, are beneficial if you have the flu. Staying hydrated and nourished when sick with flu is important, so simple, nutrient-filled meals are best. Depending on your symptoms, you may also want to choose soft, warm foods to soothe a sore throat.
What should I eat when sick with COVID?
What are the worst foods to eat when sick?
Which foods you avoid when sick may depend on your specific symptoms. You’ll want to stay away from foods that worsen symptoms. In many cases, this includes foods high in fat or sugar.
You also won’t benefit much from processed or fast food, as they typically contain
Resting, staying hydrated, and getting proper nutrition are some of the most important things you can do to feel better and recover faster when sick.
Fortunately, many foods have benefits that go beyond providing your body with nutrients.
While no food alone is likely to cure sickness, eating the right foods may help support your immune system and relieve certain symptoms.