When you’re down with the cold or flu, what you eat can make all the difference between spending another day in bed and waking up refreshed. Yet whipping up a balanced meal with a pounding head or a runny nose might be the last thing you want to do.
The key is to load up on nutrient-dense foods that help ease your symptoms and strengthen your immunity. So the next time you feel under the weather, make a beeline for the kitchen and help yourself to the following:
Yogurt is an excellent food to eat when you’re sick. For one, it contains beneficial bacteria and yeasts collectively known as probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds. Taking probiotics regularly may even lower your chance of catching a cold in the first place.
Yogurt is also ideal for when you have a sore throat. Enjoy a Greek yogurt bowl topped with your favorite fruits for breakfast or pop a yogurt cup in the freezer for later.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar in many ways to yogurt. But many health experts are convinced that it’s a lot healthier than yogurt, and for good reason. The probiotics in kefir can contain up to 61 different strains of bacteria and yeasts. So keep a bottle of kefir by your bedside when you’re sick.
3. Raw honey
Raw honey has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it can help kill harmful microbes that may be causing you to feel ill. Raw honey can also reduce inflammation inside your body and help soothe an irritated throat. Add a few teaspoons of raw honey to your herbal tea or stir some into your oatmeal to hasten your recovery.
Leafy green vegetables like kale give you lots of antioxidants that help your immune system function. One such antioxidant is vitamin C, which has been extensively studied for its role in boosting immune health. Dish up an easy kale salad to give your immune system a much-needed boost.
5. Bell pepper
Sweet bell peppers, especially the red ones, have nearly twice the amount of vitamin C in oranges. Bell peppers are also packed with other essential nutrients, such as folate and potassium. Wash some bell peppers, slice them into strips and snack on them during the day to speed up your recovery.
A bowl of oatmeal may just be your ticket to wellness. Oats are incredibly rich in fiber, which serves as food for the good bacteria in your gut. Aside from helping digest food, these bacteria play an important role in your well-being.
And while oats aren’t super exciting, bland foods can actually help ease symptoms. Oatmeal is also very easy to eat. You wouldn’t want to fuss with complicated food when you already feel terrible.
Ginger has a long history of use as a natural medicine for nausea and tummy troubles. The cold and the flu can do a number on your stomach and decrease your appetite. To banish gut problems and restore your appetite, brew yourself a nice hot cup of ginger tea. Just steep grated ginger in hot water and strain before drinking.
8. Chicken soup
No list of cold-fighting foods is complete without chicken soup. This beloved comfort food is amazing for many reasons. For starters, it’s hydrating. Staying hydrated helps your organs and muscles function properly.
The heat from the soup also clears a clogged nose by thinning out mucus. Plus, the protein in chicken helps your body fight whatever infection is making you ill.
Serve your main dish with a side of chickpeas — your body will thank you for it. Chickpeas are chock-full of fiber and protein, two key nutrients that can keep your immune system in good shape.
Chickpeas are also high in calories. Meeting your daily calorie requirement may be difficult if you barely have an appetite. Your body needs calories to carry out important functions, including healing itself.
When you’re feeling under the weather, you probably won’t be up to the task of sitting down to a loaded meal. But you need protein to maintain your strength. Luckily, you can reach your protein quota by eating eggs, which are much easier to digest than meat. Eggs are not only protein-rich but also provide vitamin D, which is known to support immune health.
Crunchy spinach leaves can give you plenty of nutrients that promote a speedy recovery, such as zinc and vitamin C. They also provide iron, which helps in delivering oxygen to your cells. If your cells don’t get enough oxygen, you’re more likely to feel tired. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and goat’s cheese on top of a bed of spinach leaves.
12. Green tea
If you have trouble breathing because of a stuffy nose, drink green tea. Green tea has antioxidants that support immunity. Green tea also helps relieve symptoms like nausea, bloating and other stomach issues.
13. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds make for a light, immunity-boosting snack. They contain omega-6 fatty acids, which may help prevent diseases. Add sunflower seeds to your homemade bread batter or sprinkle some on your grain bowls.
Turmeric is a fragrant, golden spice typically used in Indian cuisine. It is traditionally used as a remedy for colds, too. That’s because curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has antioxidant properties. Stir one teaspoon of turmeric powder into chicken soup or whisk some into a dressing for your salad bowls.
It’s important to nourish your body and stay hydrated when you’re trying to recover from being sick. The foods listed above can help relieve your symptoms, strengthen your immune system and speed up your recovery. Try to eat them as part of a balanced meal for best results.