Being sick sucks! You feel miserable and you don’t want to spend your energy cooking. There is an old wives tale saying to “feed a cold and starve a flu”. This is not necessarily true. When you’re sick, you body is expending energy to make you healthy again. To help your body heal, doctors suggest fueling it with healthy, nutritious food. Hydrating yourself is especially important when suffering from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can leave you seriously dehydrated. It can be hard to keep down food, but make sure you keep drinking and try eating easily digestible foods.
When you have a sore throat, you might not want to eat. Swallowing can be very painful, making you hesitant to eat anything. The same can happen when you’re congested. You can lose your sense of smell, which is obviously linked closely to your sense of taste. If you can’t taste your food, you certainly won’t feel like eating. We brought together 10 amazing foods that will help you heal when sick. Whether you are suffering from a cold or the stomach flu, we have some suggestions from experts on what to eat to get you healthy, faster…
A common drink to enjoy when you’re sick is ginger ale, but have you ever wondered why? Ginger is a natural anti-nauseant. When you are feeling sick to your stomach, drinking ginger beverages can be the best option. Instead of pop, opt for a popular ginger soda that contains real ginger, not just ginger-sugar flavoring. You can also make your own ginger tea by pouring boiling water over slices of ginger and honey. Enjoy this hot beverage and feel the stomach relief.
According to a study from University of Rochester’s Dermatology and Radiation Oncology department, which monitored the effects of ginger prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy, a small, one-quarter teaspoon of ginger was effective in reducing symptoms of nausea by up to 40-percent.
Soup is another favorite when you are feeling sick. The warming broth relaxes your chest when you are congested. Garlic and onion broth give amazing nutrients and have been shown to be antimicrobial. Some people believe that you should restrict dairy intake when you have a lot of mucus and phlegm, which is true for creamy soups, like cream of chicken and mushroom, that can exacerbate coughing.
Although studies aren’t suggesting that a warm bowl of chicken soup will flat out cure what ails you, the popular and comforting home remedy has been credited for it’s ability to hydrate the body in hopes of fighting off infection, of reducing overall inflammation, and with freeing up congested airways, noses, and throats.
Not only is honey sweet and delicious, but it’s great for a sore throat. Honey is an antimicrobial and can help kill the bacteria on the back of your throat. Enjoy a spoonful of honey or mix it into tea. Warm honey tea can give amazing relief to a sore throat. The combination of the warm liquid and the bacteria-destroying honey is a powerful one-two punch. Mix it with ginger tea and you’ll have a delicious, soothing sore throat remedy.
Research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, found that honey is able to fight infection in multiple ways. For instance, honey has an arsenal of bacterial-fighting weapons on hand, such as polyphenols, high sugar concentration, hydrogen peroxide, osmotic effect, and a natural acidity, all which protect the body from bacteria and actively target and destroy bacterial cells.
- Spicy Foods
When you’re congested, it may be hard to eat. You can’t smell, you can’t taste, and you’re just miserable. What you really need is to clear your sinuses and eustachian tube. The perfect remedy for this is to eat super spicy foods. Your body reacts to the burning sensation by loosening up the mucus that is clogging your body. Plus, the strong flavors will be easier for you to taste compared to tasteless, bland foods.
For instance, research from 2011 that was published in the journal, Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, lined cayenne pepper spice (or rather capsaicin, cayenne’s active ingredient) to improving circulation, making digestion more efficient, and even to relieving pain and congestion related to flu symptoms. The study prescribed capsaicin nasal spray to participants during a duration of two weeks and found that overall participants who used the spray suffered less congestion.
Ginseng is a popular ingredient in energizing drinks and cold remedy medications. One popular pill brand promises shorter illnesses with continued consumption of their ginseng product. You can easily make ginseng drinks and soup at home and forgo these manufactured concoctions. You can find ginseng at Asian grocery stores in dried and powdered form. Add ginseng to your honey tea and pop a root in your broth as you simmer soup. It will help re-energize your body, and reduce the duration and severity of your sickness.
According to a study from Georgia State University, red ginseng extract was able to effectively ward off influenza A viral infection. The study examined a group of mice infected with influenza A viral infection and given ginseng as treatment over a lengthy duration. Findings showed that mice who took the ginseng produced grater levels of flu-fighting antiviral proteins, resulting in an improved ability to fight the influenza and prevent future flu.
Clove oil is commonly used in dental surgeries when packing open wounds in the mouth. It is a powerful alternative, topical pain killer. You can use this natural spice to your advantage when you have a sore throat. Add clove powder to your warm tea or chew on whole cloves for a more potent throat remedy. Be careful with clove oil as it can actually irritate the throat.
According to a study conducted at the Central Institute of Nedical and Aromatic Plants, located in Lucknow, India, several anti-vital oils, including clove oil, was able to help battle a drug-resistant mutations of several bacterial infections, including Mycobacterium smegmatis, E. coli, and Candida albicans.
If you have a stomach flu, eating may be the last thing on your mind. If you can manage it, unflavored, unsalted crackers are a great food to eat. Saltines can help absorb excess stomach acids when you have thrown up everything else. Enjoy simple crackers and not cheese, butter, or herb flavored. While these may taste better, they could be too heavy on your sensitive stomach. When you’re feeling up to it, add some natural nut butter on top of your crackers for protein and see how that goes down.
My doctor always recommends eating saltine crackers, or another bland cracker brand, as a way to reduce nausea associated with the stomach flu. Crackers work to quell nausea due to their high starch content, which effectively absorbs excess chinning stomach acid as well as pregnancy-related morning sickness.
Bananas are another great food to have when you are feeling nauseated. They are high in fruit sugars, which can give you a much needed energy boost when you are sick. Bananas make up part of the BRAT diet, which is a recommended diet when suffering from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Enjoy any of these four foods knowing they are easy on the stomach.
Thank goodness for bananas, which effectively reduce nausea associated with flu, hangover, and morning sickness. Bananas are high in several nutrients that quell an upset tummy, including in pectin (which aids digestion and banishes toxins and heavy metals), prebiotics (which encourage the growth of good bacteria in the bowel), fiber (which aids healthy bowel health and soothes the digestive tract), electrolytes (which calm upset tummy and diarrhoea), and a gentle coating that prevents heartburn, ulcers, and coats and protects the lining of the stomach.
It seems any sort of illness can be lessened with a delicious popsicle. When you’re feeling sick, you may resist drinking liquids. This is the total opposite of what you need to do to get better faster. Stave off dehydration by consuming a variety of liquids. Popsicles are a great frozen liquid for you to enjoy.
The cold will also help numb a sore throat. Look for pure juice varieties of popsicles to get some natural fruit sugars and energy. Just be sure to look for popsicles that contain natural flavors and fruit juices. As refined sugars can give you a headache and further prevent the body’s ability to fight off infection. However, natural hydration with fruit bars will deliver the water and nutrients you need to stay energized and fight off that flu!
- Orange Juice
Normally, most juices are high in sugar and overly processed. However, when you’re sick with a cold, a glass of 100-percent real orange juice (with pulp) can provide a vitamin kick when you’re not eating a lot or having trouble digesting foods high in fiber due to gastric distress. Juice is a great way to get vitamins and fruit sugar in an easily digestible format.
Real vegetable juices are also a great choice. Whatever you pick, just make sure it’s 100% pure fruit or vegetable juice with no added refined sugars, colors, or chemicals. Plus, the natural vitamins and nutrients in real fruit juice (such as vitamin C) will boost the immune system and aid in energy stores to give your body that zip it needs to whip that flu bug.
- Coconut Water
Staying well-hydrated is one of the most important things you can do when sick.
Hydration is especially important when you have a fever, sweat a lot or have vomiting or diarrhea, which can cause you to lose a lot of water and electrolytes.
Coconut water is the perfect beverage to sip on when you’re sick.
Besides being sweet and flavorful, it contains glucose and the electrolytes needed for re-hydration.
Studies show that coconut water helps you re-hydrate after exercise and mild cases of diarrhea. It also causes less stomach discomfort than similar drinks.
Additionally, several studies in animals found that coconut water contains antioxidants that can fight oxidative damage and may also improve blood sugar control .
However, one study found that it causes more bloating than other electrolyte beverages. It might be a good idea to begin slowly if you’ve never tried it .
Like bananas, oatmeal is bland and easy to eat while providing the calories, vitamins and minerals you need when sick.
It also contains some protein — about 5 grams in a 1/2 cup.
Oatmeal has some other powerful health benefits, including stimulating the immune system and improving blood sugar control .
One rat study also showed that beta-glucan, a type of fiber found in oats, helped decrease inflammation in the gut. This could help relieve symptoms such as intestinal cramping, bloating and diarrhea .
However, avoid buying artificially flavored oatmeal with lots of added sugar. Instead, add a small amount of honey or fruit to provide even more benefits.
Yogurt is an excellent food to eat when sick.
It provides 150 calories and 8 grams of protein per cup. It’s also cold, which can sooth your throat.
Yogurt is also rich in calcium and full of other vitamins and minerals.
Some yogurts also contain beneficial probiotics.
Evidence shows that probiotics can help both children and adults get colds less often, heal faster when sick and take fewer antibiotics.
One study found that children taking probiotics felt better an average of two days faster, and their symptoms were about 55% less severe.
Some people have reported that dairy intake thickens mucus. However, several studies show that dairy intake causes no change in cough, congestion or mucus production, even among those who are sick.
Nonetheless, if you feel that diary products worsen your congestion, try other fermented foods containing probiotics or a probiotic supplement instead.
The avocado is an unusual fruit because it is low in carbs but high in fat.
In particular, it is high in healthy monounsaturated fat, the same type of fat found in olive oil.
Avocados are also a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Avocados are a great food when sick because they provide calories, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. They’re also soft, relatively bland and easy to eat.
Because of the healthy fats avocados contain, especially oleic acid, they help to decrease inflammation while also playing a role in immune function.
Salmon is one of the best protein sources to eat when sick.
It is soft, easy to eat and full of the high-quality protein your body needs.
Salmon is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Salmon is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, which many people are lacking in. Vitamin D plays a role in immune function.