Unfortunately, flu season is upon us once again. Although there are ways to reduce your risk of catching a flu virus, it is likely that you or a loved one will fall ill at some point during the colder months of the year. When you catch the flu, it can be hard to know what to eat to feel better and stay appropriately nourished. Take note of these ideas to help yourself and the members of your family to recover more quickly.
1) Foods that promote white blood cell production:
Certain foods are particularly good for the parts of your body that are responsible for producing the white blood cells that fight viral infections like the flu. These foods include chicken, turkey, bananas, and fish.
2) Drinks that replenish electrolytes:
If the flu is causing you to vomit or experience diarrhea, drinks that contain electrolytes will aid your recovery. Most pharmacies stock powder that can be added to water in order to replenish your electrolytes. Sports drinks such as Gatorade will often help as well.
3) Chicken soup:
Although the relationship is still quite mysterious, many studies have shown a relationship between eating chicken soup and recovering from illnesses like the flu. It seems to be especially useful when you are congested, as it thins mucus and reduces the amount of it that is produced.
4) Easily digestible foods:
If you have been vomiting or suffering from diarrhea, be careful not to eat anything for a few hours (though it is, of course, essential that you keep yourself hydrated by having electrolyte-containing drinks). When you have stopped vomiting and are ready for solid food, start with very bland foods. Good examples include dry crackers (or crackers with a very light coating of butter), plain rice, toast, and plain chicken.
5) A homemade remedy for throat pain:
When you have a sore throat, mix half a teaspoon of sea salt with eight ounces of warm water. Gargle this as often as you can, and this will help with both the pain and the inflammation in the tissues of your throat.
Anything that contains garlic (such as soup or pasta sauce) may help with nasal congestion. Current studies also suggest that it stimulates the immune system and helps to fight infection.
7) The BRAT diet:
If you are suffering from diarrhea, try the BRAT diet that is endorsed by many doctors. This diet includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are intended to help solidify and normalize your bowel movements.
8) Foods containing flavonoids:
Some studies suggest that foods containing anti-inflammatory components called flavonoids can help strengthen your immune system and boost the speed of your recovery from illness. Some foods that contain flavonoids include tomatoes, apples, and cranberries.
9) Drinks that boost the immune system:
Due to the relationship between Vitamin C and effective immune system function, it is possible that drinking orange or grapefruit juice may allow you to recover from the flu more quickly.
10) Cold foods:
Cold foods will help ease the pain and inflammation of your sore throat as well. Try an ice popsicle, which you can hold against the swollen and painful tissue.
11) Drinks that reduce nausea:
If you are feeling nauseated, you may find that several different kinds of tea can be helpful. Ginger and peppermint teas have both been reported to help settle upset stomachs and the associated pain that they cause. If you do not like drinking tea, flat ginger ale will have a similarly beneficial effect.
12) Antioxidant drinks:
The role of antioxidants is still contentious, but some research does suggest that they help to boost your immune system. Try drinking some vegetable juice, which will keep you hydrated even if the antioxidants do not have the desired impact.
13) Foods that do not inhibit white blood cell production:
There is some evidence that excessive amounts of processed foods and sugars have an adverse influence on the productivity of your white blood cells (which are cells that help to kill the flu virus), so try to stick to fresh foods and avoid sugary snacks.
14) Meal replacements:
If having the flu has prevented you from eating properly for many days (or has been causing you to vomit a lot of your food), you can try buying meal replacement drinks that provide protein without an overload of sugar. These are usually available in enjoyable flavors (such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry).
The most important and basic thing that you need to do is to drink as much water as you can. This will help flush the virus out of your system, and can also thin any mucus that is accumulating in your nose and throat.
These foods and drinks should help you recover from the flu, though most people do find that they feel ill for at least a week. If your health is not improving, or if you develop alarming symptoms (such as breathing difficulties), do not hesitate to contact your doctor for help and advice.