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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

How to Fend Off the Flu

And what to do if you do get sick
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What to Do When You've Got the Flu continued...

Don't worry about following your eating plan or keeping up with your journal when you're not feeling well. Most people don't feel much like eating when they are sick, especially if they have flu-like symptoms. You can catch up your journal when you're back to enjoying solid food, or simply skip the period during which you were ill.

The single most important nutrition therapy for a speedy recovery is to drink plenty of nourishing liquids, such as hot tea, broth-based or chicken soup, and 100% fruit juice. All of these beverages contain easily-to-digest fluids and nutrients that will help you get well.

You might want to make your tea the chamomile variety. Chamomile tea, long regarded as a calming bedtime tea and as a way to quell an upset stomach, is now thought to be an immunity-booster as well. A study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that five daily cups of chamomile tea helped fight infections.

Stack the Deck in Your Favor

Choosing a multivitamin with extra vitamin E and C may help reduce flu symptoms. A 2002 study showed that seniors who took 200 IU of vitamin E daily for a year had 20% fewer colds. Typical multivitamins contain just 30 IU of vitamin E, and this is one vitamin that is easier to supplement in pill form than in food. Food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts, asparagus, spinach, and other green, leafy vegetables.

Linus Pauling became famous for advocating extra vitamin C for cold and flu symptoms a decade ago, but the validity of his advice has been called into question in the last few years. Some researchers maintain that extra vitamin C is effective only for elite athletes. Others suggest that high doses of vitamin C can reduce symptoms and/or reduce your sick time by a day or two.

Whatever the case, drinking orange and grapefruit juice and eating vitamin C-rich tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage are unlikely to do any harm -- and are excellent choices when you're feeling under the weather. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it's hard to get too much from food sources.

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