Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu

Photo of popsicles.

Ice Pops

They can soothe your throat when it's sore, swollen, or dry. They also keep you hydrated, which is key when you fight the flu. Getting enough fluids keeps your mucus thin and eases congestion. Look for ice pops made from 100% fruit juice to make sure you get nutrients and not sugar water. You can also make your own frozen juice bars.

Photo of turkey sandwich with cranberries.

Turkey Sandwich

It has lean protein, a key part of a healthy diet. And although you may not feel like it, eating helps give your body energy to fight illness. Add cranberry sauce for a spike of flavor and comfort-food taste.

Photo of vegetable juice.

Vegetable Juice

Since you may not feel up to making and eating a salad while you recover from the flu, try a glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead. You'll load up on antioxidants that boost the immune system, your body's defense against germs.

Do you crave a sweet taste? Go with 100% fruit juice.

Photo of chicken soup.

Chicken Soup

It helps you get the fluids you need and it's nourishing, too. Some scientific evidence shows that it can help with healing. Hot chicken soup can improve the way tiny hair-like parts in the passages of your nose protect your body from bacteria and viruses.

Photo of garlic on plate.

Garlic

If you feel up to it, garlic can be a good choice to spice up foods like soup. It appears to have some ability to boost the immune system and give you slight relief from congestion.

Photo of ginger root.

Ginger

It may help relieve your stomachache and nausea. Some studies suggest it fights inflammation, too. You can add it to other foods, either freshly grated or as a powder. Another option: Have a drink of flat ginger ale.

Photo of hot tea with lemon

Hot Tea

Drink green, oolong, and black tea to take in some antioxidants. Breathe in the steam to help clear your stuffy nose. Add a spoonful of honey and a squeeze of lemon to soothe your sore throat. If caffeine bothers you, try decaf or herbal versions instead.

Photo of banana slices.

Banana

Whether you slice it, mash it, or eat it whole, bananas are easy on the stomach. They can be a go-to food if you've been hit with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Bananas, along with rice, applesauce, and toast, make up the BRAT diet -- often the first foods doctors encourage people to try when they're recovering from stomach flu and ready for solid foods.

Photo of toast.

Toast

Toast or crackers are convenient foods when you're fighting illness. They pair well with chicken noodle soup, and their satisfying crunch can take the edge off hunger when your stomach can't handle much.

Photo of meal replacement drink.

Meal Replacement Drinks

If your appetite has returned, try one of these to make sure you get the right nutrients and calories. Look for lactose-free drinks that are low in sugar and have at least 6 grams of protein.

Sources:

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REFERENCES:

  • American Lung Association.
  • Dziwe, N. Emergency Medicine News, January 2004.
  • Kliegman, R. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, Saunders Elsevier, 2007.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  • National Jewish Medical and Research Center.
  • Parrish, C. Practical Gastroenterology, June 2007.
  • Postgraduate Medicine, January 2002.
  • Rakel, R. Textbook of Family Medicine. Saunders Elsevier, 2007.
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