What to Eat When You're Sick (And What Not To)Winter is fast approaching, and you know what this means: flu season is right upon us. And even though we sometimes try our best to fight off those flu germs, chances are we will get at least a mild sniffle at some point. However, reaching for that medicine cabinet is not always the answer.
Nature has provided us with various nutrient dense foods, which can alleviate flu-like symptoms, like a high fever and the chills, in no time. But, what are these amazing foods you need in your kitchen as winter approaches? And which ones don't belong on your flu fighting grocery list? Read on and find out everything you need to know about your beat-the-cold meal plan.
Coming Down With the Flu – The Need-to-Know
You've probably heard of this old saying that goes: "Starve a fever, feed a cold." Well, the truth is that you shouldn't do either of these things when you catch a cold. According to research(1), the rate at which your body burns calories (metabolic rate) is significantly more active when you are sick, because of the increased body temperature. In fact, for every degree your temperature rises, your metabolic rate increases by about 7%. As a result, you need more calories to keep up with your body's needs.
Meanwhile, experts(2) suggest that you need to eat regularly when you are sick since a caloric restriction reduces your body's ability to heal. To be exact, they mention that a reduced caloric intake makes you more susceptible to the flu's adverse effects, meaning you may experience the symptoms more intensely, while also prolonging the duration of your sick time.
So, even though coming down with the flu may ruin your appetite, you need to stick to a regular eating schedule and keep your body hydrated and well nourished at all times.
What to Eat When You Are Sick
Maybe garlic is not the best way to treat your breath, but garlic sure knows how to beat flu symptoms. Containing a hefty dose of vitamin C(3), garlic(4) has the power to reduce the duration of the cold, relieving you from the miserable flu symptoms as soon as possible. Not only that, garlic is also rich in allicin(5), a compound with powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. So, how about some garlic potato soup this winter?
Before You Get the Sniffles: Stock up on dehydrated garlic (sliced or granulated) by Mother Earth Products to keep the symptoms at bay.
High fever, chills, and an aching body are not the only signs that you are coming down with the flu. Sometimes other symptoms, nausea and vomiting, may also occur. In this case, ginger should be your go-to option. This versatile plant contains a series of antimicrobial nutrients,(6) which minimizes the intensity of cold symptoms by weaking flu germs. At the same time, ginger(7) relieves you from fever induced nausea and vomiting.
Before You Get the Sniffles: Grate ginger into your salads or meals for an extra anti-flu boost.
3. Leafy Greens
Primarily known for their high content of vitamin C(8), leafy green vegetables - spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and arugula - can also be a tasty way to fight off cold symptoms. But, besides being rich sources of the flu fighting vitamin, leafy greens also feature a moderate antibacterial activity,(9) which enhances their immunity-boosting profile even more.
Before You Get the Sniffles: Stock your pantry with dehydrated spinach by Mother Earth Products and add it to soups for a dash of immunity and a pinch of flavor.
Usually recommended for treating cough, honey is ideal for soothing a sore throat. However, this is not all honey is good for. According to research(10), this sweetener (especially manuka honey) shields your body against influenza, while also demonstrating potent antimicrobial activity(11).
Before You Get the Sniffles: Add half a teaspoon of honey into a glass of warm water or tea. This way you allow the sweetener to act upon flu germs while also hydrating your body.
5. Chicken Soup
It looks like there is some truth to this old wives' tale. Chicken soup(12) is actually one of the most efficient (and tasty, may we add) ways to soothe a cold. But why? According to research, chicken meat(13) contains an amino acid, known as cysteine, which is particularly aggressive when it comes to lung mucus(14).
With that in mind, the hot, cysteine-rich chicken broth is an excellent way to hydrate your body, while clearing your flu stricken nasal pathways. Not only that, but experts also suggest that chicken soup may also contain various ingredients with medicinal properties, such as ginger or garlic, which make it all the more effective against the flu.
Before You Get the Sniffles: Indulge in bowlfuls of chicken soup as often as possible for a illness free winter. For an extra boost, add nutrient dense veggies, such as ginger, garlic (also an active flu germ killer), or dehydrated carrots by Mother Earth Products.
The scientific world is still out on this one, but one recent study(15) suggests that probiotics (found in abundance in yogurt) has a modest effect on common cold prevention. However, since scientists are modestly optimistic about yogurt flu fighting effects, moderation is key.
Before You Get the Sniffles: Snack on yogurt in between meals. Decrease your chances of getting sick by mixing yogurt with other foods that prevent the common flu, like honey.
What Not to Eat When You Are Sick
1. Citrus Fruits
Even though citrus fruits - oranges, grapefruits, limes, and lemons - are excellent sources of vitamin C (which fights off flu germs in no time), their acidic nature is often hard on your stomach, irritating it and causing further unnecessary discomfort. Better be safe than sorry, right?
2. Fat Loaded Foods
Much like citrus fruits, fat loaded foods are also hard to digest. While this wouldn't be an issue in your everyday life, your stomach is quite sensitive when you are sick, and fatty foods may irritate it even more. So, if you're feeling under the weather, you'd better skip burgers, chips, or junk food in general.
3. Sugar-Loaded Foods
According to research(16), consuming too much sugar causes inflammation and suppresses the healthy function of your immune system. The thing is that, when you're sick, your immune system is already suppressed. So, indulging in a bowl of ice cream or a handful of cookies during your flu days would only make matters worse.