Let’s face it, thinking about eating when you’re under the weather can be downright unappetizing. But don’t rule out the healing power of foods just yet! Depending on the type of illness you’re suffering, there are different ways to use foods to feel better. So being that we’re right in the middle of a pretty nasty cold & flu season, let’s go over some ways to use good nutrition to feel better.
First, the flu. You know it when you have it. Whether it’s a stomach flu (norovirus), or the seasonal flu (influenza), it leaves you feeling downright wretched for a few days. The main priorities when it comes to nutrition are maintaining energy levels and adequate hydration. While any nausea persists, stick with small sips of clear liquids only. Examples of clear liquids include water, tea, broths, and unsweetened juices. Chamomile and ginger tea can be especially soothing to upset tummies, while also providing some necessary hydration. Once your queasiness subsides, introducing some smooth, nutritionally dense foods like yogurts, soups, soft fruits, and cooked vegetables can be helpful. Probiotic foods like yogurt, and kefir have been shown in research to reduce the severity and length of illnesses including the flu. And the rich levels of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits will support your immune system as it fights off pathogens.
Next, the common cold. It’s less severe, but can also leave you feeling pretty bad for up to several weeks. Hydration is also of utmost importance now, to help your body effectively flush out invaders. So make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Vitamin C and Zinc rich foods, like citrus fruits, peppers, sweet potatoes, and eggs are great boosters. Decaf green, and black teas can help soothe sore throats, and reduce coughing, sneezing, and congestion. Add a little honey, and you’ll get double duty sore throat and cough-reducing power. Foods like chicken soup (your mom was right!), as well as probiotic foods and produce as mentioned above can also be soothing, as well as ease cold symptoms.
Remember, a dose of prevention also goes a long way to staying healthy, so remember to wash those hands frequently, get enough sleep, destress and eat well throughout cold and flu season. But when the inevitable illness strikes you this season, you will be prepared!