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What to Eat When You Have the Flu

If you're suffering with the flu, you may be wondering if there's a flu diet. After all, you've heard the adage "starve a fever, and feed a cold." But what do you eat when you have both fever and cold-like symptoms that come with the flu?

Today, more than ever, we're aware of the healing power of food to enhance immunity and aid in recovering from illness. Of course, proper nutrition is necessary for maintaining good health. But when your body battles flu symptoms for days or even weeks, your diet becomes even more essential in helping you achieve a speedy recovery. It's critical that necessary vitamins and minerals be included in your daily diet to help you build your strength.

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What Are the Benefits of Nutrients in Healing?

Nutrients are special compounds in foods that are essential to the body's repair, growth, and wellness. Nutrients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and water as well as the sources of calories -- carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Some nutrients -- called nonessential nutrients -- are made by your body. Other nutrients -- essential nutrients -- must come from your diet. Any deficiency in nutrients can lead to illness if not corrected.

What Foods Help Fight Infection With Flu?

Whether you are sick with the flu or not, protein is always necessary to keep your body strong. Proteins are essential to help your body maintain and build strength. Lean meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, eggs, and nuts and seeds are good sources of protein.

The FDA recommends that adults eat 50 grams of protein per day. Pregnant and nursing women need more. By eating foods high in protein, we also get the benefit of other healing nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12, both of which contribute to a healthy immune system.

Vitamin B6 is widely available in foods, including protein foods such as turkey and beans as well as potatoes, spinach, and enriched cereal grains. Proteins such as meats, milk, and fish also contain vitamin B12, a powerful immune booster.

Minerals such as selenium and zinc work to keep the immune system strong. These minerals are found in protein rich foods such as beans, nuts, meat, and poultry.

Can Flavonoids Boost Immune Function?

Flavonoids (or bioflavonoids) include about 4,000 compounds that are responsible for the colors of fruits and flowers. Findings show that flavonoids found in the soft white skin of citrus fruits increase immune system activation.

Flavonoids are found in grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes.

What Other Nutrients Help Fight Infection?

One nutrient that's found to strengthen the immune system so it can fight other infections is glutathione. This powerful antioxidant is most plentiful in the red, pulpy area of the watermelon near the rind. Glutathione is also found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage.

The most important point to remember about food choices is that a healthy well-balanced diet should contain a variety of foods. Relying on a single food or food group to provide adequate nutrition can be dangerous. Also, replacing fresh fruits and vegetables with supplements has in many cases not been shown to provide the benefit of food and may even be harmful.

WebMD Medical Reference

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