The flu is a collective term that refers to infection with an influenza virus. In this article, I describe which foods may help or harm a person who has the flu, according to scientific evidence*.
Which foods may help flu recovery?
Garlic may have antiviral and antimicrobial properties. These can help support the immune system as it combats infection, including a cold or the flu. Eating meals with plenty of garlic may help the body fight off infection. Add garlic to soups, vegetables, chutneys to gain maximum benefits.
2) Foods high in vitamin C
Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C help support the immune system. Those with the highest levels of vitamin C include:
- Gooseberry (amla)
Many fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C are also excellent sources of flavonoids, which are compounds that can help reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Beyond the foods listed above, good sources of both vitamin C and flavonoids include:
- Other citrus fruits, such as lemons, sweet lime
- Green and black grapes
- Raw broccoli
- Raw, dark leafy greens
Ginger may help relieve any nausea that accompanies the flu. Properties in ginger can help with the digestive process, and the emptying of the stomach, in particular. Chopped ginger root or ground ginger can be a delicious addition to soups, stews, and other meals. Ginger also goes well in herbal teas or a mixture of hot water, honey, and lemon.
4) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens contain plenty of fiber, which aids in digestion. These vegetables also provide key nutrients, such as:
Vitamin C, Iron, Folic Acid
These play an important role in supporting the immune system. Leafy green vegetables may also have antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects. As a result, eating leafy greens may help the body heal from the flu. Leafy greens can be an easy addition to soups, salads, or stews. Examples of these vegetables include:
- Fenugreek (Methi)
- Lamb’s quarter (Bathua), Amaranth (Chaulai Bhaji)
A study from 2000 suggests that common ingredients in chicken soup may collectively combat inflammation, reducing inflammatory responses in the body. As a result, chicken soup may help clear congestion in the nose and airways and soothe other symptoms in the upper respiratory tract. Other soups, including vegetarian or vegan options, may have similar effects. Soups can be nutritious, easy to digest, soothing, and easy to prepare, even during illnesses. Also, because they contain water, soups promote hydration.
6) Oatmeal and Broken Wheat (Dalia)
Oatmeal and broken wheat is filling, easy to make, and a great source of fiber. In fact, the prebiotic fiber in both can help feed healthful bacteria in the body.
Foods to avoid
Certain foods and drinks may slow recovery from the flu, including:
- Processed foods: These can be high in salt, which can dehydrate the body, and sugar, which can increase inflammation.
- Greasy foods: These can slow down digestion.
- Dairy: Lactose, a compound in dairy, can be hard to digest. Anyone who is feeling nauseous or who experiences increased mucus production after eating dairy should avoid it until flu symptoms resolve.
- Food with rough edges: biscuits and other crispy foods can scratch the throat and worsen any soreness.