A person may not feel like eating much when they have the flu. However, certain foods may aid recovery.
The flu is a collective term that refers to infection with an influenza virus.
Eating nourishing food and drinking plenty of fluids can provide essential nutrients and keep the body hydrated, which may help speed recovery from the flu.
In this article, we describe which foods may help or harm a person who has the flu, according to scientific evidence. Read on for a practical dietary guide to recovery from the flu.
Medical research suggests that the following foods may reduce symptoms of the flu:
A study from 2000 suggests that common ingredients in chicken soup may collectively combat inflammation, reducing inflammatory responses in the body.
As a result, chicken soup may help clear congestion in the nose and airways and soothe other symptoms in the upper respiratory tract.
Other soups, including vegetarian or vegan options, may have similar effects.
Soups can be nutritious, easy to digest, soothing, and easy to prepare, even during illnesses. Also, because they contain water, soups can promote hydration.
Garlic may have antiviral and antimicrobial properties. These can help support the immune system as it combats infection, including a cold or the flu.
Authors of a 2014 review have looked at the effects of garlic on the common cold.
They refer to a 146-participant study in which participants who took a garlic supplement every day for 3 months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo. The authors note that confirming the effects will require further research, however.
Eating meals with plenty of garlic may help the body fight off infection.
Learn more about the health benefits of garlic.
Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C help support the immune system. Those with the highest levels of vitamin C include:
Many fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C are also excellent sources of flavonoids, which are compounds that can provide a wide range of health benefits. For example, flavonoids may help reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections.
Beyond the foods listed above, good sources of both vitamin C and flavonoids include:
Ginger may help relieve any nausea that accompanies the flu. Properties in ginger can help with the digestive process, and the emptying of the stomach, in particular.
One review found evidence to suggest that ginger was more effective than a placebo in treating:
The researchers also noted that ginger helped lower the frequency of vomiting and the intensity of nausea during pregnancy.
Chopped ginger root or ground ginger can be a delicious addition to soups, stews, and other meals. Ginger also goes well in herbal teas or a mixture of hot water, honey, and lemon.
Leafy greens contain plenty of fiber, which aids digestion. These vegetables also provide key nutrients, such as:
These play an important role in supporting the immune system.
Leafy green vegetables may also have antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects. As a result, eating leafy greens may help the body heal from the flu.
Leafy greens can be an easy addition to soups or stews. They can also make an excellent side dish. Examples of these vegetables include:
Oatmeal is filling, easy to make, and a great source of fiber. In fact, the prebiotic fiber in oats can help feed healthful bacteria in the body.
Adding a banana to oatmeal can provide extra fiber, as well as vitamins such as potassium.
This may be especially beneficial for a person with flu symptoms because a fever, diarrhea, and vomiting can all deplete levels of potassium and other electrolytes.All you need to know about fluLearn more about flu symptoms and treatment.Read now
The flu can cause nausea, and rich foods may not be appealing. Bland foods, such as toast or brown rice, may be easier to eat.
Pairing either toast or brown rice with soups or simple, vegetable-based meals can ensure that the body is getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Eating yogurt that contains live bacteria may help fight off the flu. Yogurt is also a good source of protein.
A 2011 study found that fermented yogurt combatted the flu virus in mice. However, confirming this effect in humans will require further research.
It is important to note that dairy increases mucus production in some people. This can temporarily worsen flu symptoms.
Other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and plant-based yogurts, are excellent substitutes that also contain live bacteria.
Here, learn about the possible health benefits of Greek yogurt.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things that a person can do to help their body fight off the flu.
Below are some fluids that may be particularly helpful:
Certain foods and drinks may slow recovery from the flu, including:
If a person has mild to moderate flu symptoms, staying home and resting is best.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:
Taking aspirin can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare disorder, in people under 18.
Avoiding contact with other people can help keep the flu from spreading.
People who smoke should avoid it while they have the flu. Smoking can aggravate flu symptoms and delay recovery.
Taking medicine such as acetaminophen can help relieve a fever and ease aches and pains.
Anyone with concerns about their flu symptoms should see a doctor.
The flu can have more severe effects for certain people, including:
Anyone in these groups should seek treatment within 2 days of getting the flu to prevent complications. A doctor may prescribe antiviral medications.
Certain nourishing foods and drinks may aid recovery from the flu — by supporting the immune system or helping to fight inflammation, for example.
Other foods and drinks may slow recovery. Dairy and greasy foods may increase the risk of nausea and be difficult to digest, while alcohol can cause dehydration.
Anyone with severe flu symptoms should see a doctor.
Also, some people have a higher risk of more severe flu symptoms and complications. Anyone in a high-risk group should see a doctor about flu symptoms, even when they are mild.