In fact, it’s antifungal and analgesic properties can support upper-respiratory health. We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Broth will help you stay hydrated and soothe a sore throat or runny nose. The flu can cause nausea, and rich foods may not be appealing. “Though we all eat differently when we’re ill, the last thing we want is to make our body work hard to break down our food, so keeping it simple is king,” says dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It. Alex Caspero, RD, also turns to smoothies when she doesn’t feel so hot. “Oatmeal is my ultimate comfort food when I don’t feel well,” says Taub-Dix. Large amounts of sugar can cause diarrhea, which will only dehydrate you more. “Honey’s antibacterial properties can have a variety of positive effects in fighting a cold or flu,” explains holistic health practitioner, Elena Villanueva, DC, founder of Modern Holistic Health. "Alcohol is dehydrating and should be avoided," Nelligan says. “Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E and zinc, two nutrients that are necessary for optimal immune function,” he says. That's off-limits as well. Preliminary studies suggest that some other promising remedies include garlic and ginseng, but more scientific evidence is needed for definitive proof that these remedies work for most people. Don’t miss a thing by downloading Apple News here and following Prevention. Not only is cinnamon incredibly warming, but it also possesses cold-fighting properties that make it more useful than a simple seasoning, says Villanueva. "During an infection, the body's basal metabolic rate increases, which can lead to increased loss of fluids, and you need to increase hydration with water to mitigate these losses," Ian Nelligan, MD, of Stanford Health Care, tells Insider. You’ll love our magazine! You can also get the antioxidant glutathione, which appears to help fight infections, from these foods: Let’s get you back in working order. Not only is it easy for you to eat (let’s face it, that nausea can make it hard to eat anything), but it’s nutritional. “One, called quercetin, may help boost immune function.” An all-around win when you don’t feel well. They take more energy to digest and may upset your stomach and GI tract. "A little bit of sugar is OK when you are feeling unwell, but high sugar content in beverages like soda, juice, or Gatorade can cause diarrhea, so we do not recommend them in people who are experiencing symptoms of diarrhea or upset stomach from influenza," says Jessica Cheng, MD, of the University of California Davis Health. Nelligan says to avoid drinks like soda, sports drinks, and juice because of their high sugar content. Bland foods, such as toast or brown rice, may be easier to eat. This article was medically reviewed by Marjorie Cohn, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on October 7, 2019. Why trust us? Consider snacking on vitamin C–rich fruits while you have the flu. Like what you see here? You can also opt for a quality packaged ginger tea. Charles Peters, MD, of the Mayo Clinic Health System, recommends these foods: Broth and chicken soup contain significant amounts of sodium, which is a type of electrolyte that can help your body stay hydrated by making you retain water. “Nothing provides as much comfort as a steamy mug.” Soothing quality aside, tea also helps you get in all of the fluids you need—especially if you have a fever or any stomach upset, she says. Alcohol is dehydrating and may inhibit your immune system, so if you start feeling sick, skip the booze and replace it with something hydrating. “If I feel achy and have a cold incoming on but still have my appetite, I add a heaping spoonful of almond butter, ricotta, or cottage cheese to boost the protein, which supports healing and adds to its creamy texture.”. Plus, they’re packed with fiber to keep you feeling full. Caffeine can cause headaches and jitteriness, which can make you feel worse, especially if you are combining it with over-the-counter cold and flu medications. So when push comes to shove, which is more important? When you're sick with the flu, it's no fun trying to figure out what to eat and drink. "Food is not as important as hydration during the acutely ill period," Cheng says. These healthy cereal options are a good place to start. From potatoes to oatmeal, easy-to-digest carbs will be your best friend when you have a cold or flu. "Maintaining adequate hydration is your number one priority.". As for alternative low-sugar beverages like coffee and tea, opt for caffeine-free. Caspero relies on simple, digestible foods—like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast—when she’s sick. “My go-to combination is one cup of pomegranate juice, 6 ounces of yogurt, and 1 cup of strawberries,” she says. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories, juice because of their high sugar content, over-the-counter cold and flu medications, probiotics, which promote healthy digestion, How to prevent the flu, according to doctors, Yes, the flu is contagious. Looking for smart ways to get more from life? "You may not feel hungry when you are sick with influenza, and that's OK," Cheng says. Legumes are packed with the mineral zinc, which plays an important role in immune function—and can even help relieve cold and flu symptoms, says Villanueva. Prevention participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. That's why, in addition to water, you should eat food to replenish what you've lost. Oh, and we’re on Instagram too. What Adults 50+ Need to Know About the Flu Shot, Where to Get the Flu Shot for the 2020 Season, Here’s the Best Time to Get Your Flu Shot. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Caspero recommends Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal, which has a smooth, creamy texture. Of course, you want to load up on plenty of nutrients, but Taub-Dix also recommends leaning on easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Here’s what to eat and what not to eat when some bug’s got you down. She suggests sipping on a cup of cinnamon tea two or three times a day when you have a cold. And alcohol? They turn to the following 15 foods, which will help you feel better ASAP. That's why we've put together a list of doctor-recommended foods and fluids to help. “If I’ve had any stomach trouble, I choose almond milk over dairy milk for easy digestion,” she says. Her usual smoothie starts with an almond milk base, plus frozen spinach and banana, and a scoop of almond butter for protein. While supplements can help, your body can absorb nutrients like vitamin C more effectively from the foods you eat. If you have the appetite, add some protein to your potato by topping it with cottage cheese or Greek yogurt. The warmth also does wonders for an achy, sore throat. Is the Common Cold Caused by a Coronavirus? When you're sick with the flu, you might not feel like doing anything, including eating or drinking. Water is the best thing you can consume to help you get over the flu. Account active Flavonoids (found in citrus) and antioxidants (found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables) may help support the immune system. Villanueva loads up her soups with onions and garlic, which both offer unique health perks. Elderberries, which have long been used in traditional medicine to support immune health, contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Plus, “green tea, in particular, contains all sorts of beneficial compounds,” explains Ryan D. Andrews, RD, CSCS, author of A Guide to Plant-Based Eating. These symptoms not only dehydrate you but deplete you of important nutrients and calories, which are key to fueling your body with the energy it needs to fight the infection. To up her liquid intake—and sneak in some fruits and veggies without having to chew them—Taub-Dix blends up a smoothie. Garlic, for example, has an antimicrobial compound that may help combat viruses and bacteria, research shows. It also contains a number of probiotics, which promote healthy digestion. Besides being sweet and flavorful, it contains glucose and the electrolytes needed for re-hydration. Villanueva likes to add fresh citrus juice (or even the essential oils of citrus fruits) to hot tea when she doesn’t feel well—especially if she’s dealing with lots of phlegm. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at, Quality Humidifiers to Ease Cold Symptoms, How to Tell If Your Nasty Cold Is Actually the Flu, Sip on These Teas to Soothe a Sore Throat, 11 Flu Shot Side Effects You Should Know About. When he’s sick but has the appetite to munch, Andrews turns to nuts and seeds—of all kinds.