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What to Eat When You Have the Flu


What Foods Should I Eat and Avoid if I'm Congested?

Actually, any food or beverage is fine to eat if you're hungry or thirsty. In some people, dairy products increase mucus production. If this happens to you, avoid dairy for a few days. Dairy products may also make nausea and vomiting worse.

Orange juice, especially with the pulp, is packed with vitamin C and folic acid, which help to boost immunity and speed recovery from illness. Some researchers suggest that vitamin C may even decrease the time you are sick with colds and flu.

What Should I Eat or Drink if I Have Nausea From the Flu?

It's probably best to refrain from eating if you're nauseated or have diarrhea. Instead, continue to sip clear beverages to keep your system well hydrated. In addition, increase your intake of fluids such as chipped ice, juices, Gatorade, ginger ale, clear broths, gelatin, and ice pops.

Start with small amounts, such as 4 to 8 ounces at a time for adults and 1 ounce or less at a time for children. Only use clear liquids (such as clear soup broth, juice, lemon-lime soda). If you're not sure if it's clear, put the liquid in a clear glass bowl and try to read something through it. If you can't read, it's not clear.

Warm decaffeinated tea with honey may help coat your throat and soothe it. Also, warm drinks work better than cold drinks for opening congested airways.

As far as diet goes, bland foods -- like toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce -- are good for starters. However, experts now recommend returning to a normal diet within 24 hours, if possible. 


What About Grandma's Chicken Soup?

Chicken soup is a must with cold-like symptoms. In fact, in a study published in the journal Chest, researchers confirmed that chicken soup had a mild anti-inflammatory effect that reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

A well-nourished immune system is better able to fight off infections. Once you recover from flu, make sure your diet is filled with a variety of food, colorful fruits and vegetables, and legumes that are high in phytochemicals, which are natural food components that have health-boosting properties. In addition, get in bed early and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep to get your body back on the road to wellness.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on June 21, 2012
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