A balanced diet can boost your immune system and prevent you from getting sick, but if you happen to catch a cold or worse, the flu, a healthy diet is essential in helping you recover faster. Here are some foods you should eat when you're sick.
- Easily Digestible Protein - Getting enough protein is important whether you are sick or healthy, because it strengthens your body. Since your tummy may not be up for a steak, and you probably don't have the energy to cook, choose easily digestible proteins that take little or no time to prepare such as eggs, tofu, cottage cheese, fish, chicken, nuts, and beans.
- Flavonoids in Citrus Fruits - Even though vitamin C may not shorten the duration of your illness, don't ditch citrus fruits altogether. The soft white skin found on oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes contain flavonoids, which increase immune system activity.
- Yogurt - In a German study, the probiotics in yogurt have been found to shorten your cold or flu by almost two days. Choose ones that contain the bacterial strains Lactobacillus casei or Lactobacillus reuteri, since these two are the ones linked to improving immune response. Greek yogurt is a great option since most contain at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
- Infection-Fighting Glutathione - Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that fights infection. It's found in the red, pulpy fruit of the watermelon, and also cruciferous veggies like broccoli, collard greens, kale, and cabbage.
- Foods Rich in Vitamins B6 and B12 - Vitamins B6 and B12 are healing nutrients, and foods that are high in protein are often great sources of B vitamins. So get your fill of fish, milk, nutritional yeast, fortified soy milk and cereals, potatoes, spinach, and turkey.
- Soups and Broth - Clear broths like miso, chicken soup, and veggie broth will keep you hydrated and are easy to digest if you don't have much of an appetite. If you are feeling hungry, soups that contain chunks of veggies, whole grains like barley, and some kind of lean protein like beans will offer vitamins and nutrients to help your body fight infection. The hot liquids will also warm your body if you have the chills, and relieve congestion.
- Liquids - You may not feel like eating solid foods, but make sure to take in plenty of fluids. Water and ginger ale are good choices if you have an upset stomach, and electrolyte-infused beverages like Smartwater or Gatorade are a good option if you've been visiting the bathroom a lot. Real fruit juices like OJ, grapefruit, and apple cider will offer calories and nutrients to prevent feeling dizzy from not eating. If you have a stuffy nose, choose hot liquids such as tea with lemon. Green tea supports the immune system, and if you add a little honey, it will also coat your scratchy throat.
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