Stuffy nose, sore throat, upset stomach – no matter how hard you try to avoid it – sometimes you wake up feeling sick. And when you’re dealing with unpleasant symptoms, the last thing you want to do is eat or drink something that will make you feel even worse.
You know that old saying starve a fever and feed a cold? Turns out it’s just a myth. It’s not about how much you eat, but rather what you eat that can help you feel better. According to WebMD, when you eat a nutritional, well-balanced diet, you help your body function at an optimal level so that it can ward off infections and prevent future illnesses. So while feeling sick might ruin your appetite, it’s important to stay well-nourished and hydrated in order to help your body heal.
However, depending on your diagnosis, there are certain immune-boosting foods that are better to eat than others. Here’s the breakdown on what to eat and what to avoid to help you get on the shortest road to recovery.
The Best Foods For A Common Cold
Chicken Soup: There’s a reason why mom cooked chicken soup when you were sick. It’s good for a cold, and it’s comfort food for the soul. Bone broth is packed with immune-boosting nutrients such as magnesium and phosphorous. A bowl of warm broth also prevents dehydration, fights nasal congestion, and helps soothe a sore throat. Chicken, on the other hand, contains cysteine, an amino acid that reduces mucus in the lungs. Chicken soup is the closest thing there is to a cure for the common cold.
Citrus Fruits: When the coughing and sneezing gets to be too much, drink a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Raw citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime, have high concentrations of vitamin C and flavonoids, which help boost the immune system. While some studies report that citrus does not cure the common cold, it can help reduce the length or severity of the cold.
The Worst Foods For A Common Cold
Dairy Products: Ice cream might seem like the perfect elixir when you have a continuous cough and sore throat from post-nasal drip. It’s smooth and cold, making it an ideal anesthetic to reduce inflammation. And while that might be true, the relief is only temporary. Ice cream’s high sugar content can actually make the swelling in your throat worse. In fact, it’s best to avoid all dairy products when you’re sick, especially if you’re battling a cold. While there’s no scientific proof that dairy products like milk and ice cream create more phlegm, it has been proven that dairy creates thicker phlegm. Thicker phlegm will irritate your throat and worsen a cough. When you’re craving something cool, try whole fruit popsicles instead – they’ll help with hydration and decongestion.
Alcohol: No, a hot toddy isn’t good for a cold. It’s a wives’ tale that’s been passed down for centuries. Even when you aren’t feeling sick, alcohol dehydrates the body, which reduces your ability to function at your best. Overall, alcohol has a negative effect on the immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight off illness.
The Best Foods For A Sore Throat
Tea And Honey: It doesn’t matter whether you have the cold-to-end all-colds or a sore throat that makes it too difficult to swallow, you need to drink beverages, and lots of them. Green, ginger, and peppermint tea are ideal choices if you have a sore throat. Green tea contains antioxidants, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties while ginger and peppermint tea relieve nasal and chest decongestion. While you’re at it, put some raw honey in your tea. Honey also has anti-bacterial properties and acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissue and reduces swelling and discomfort.
Scrambled Eggs: When your body is fighting an infection, it needs all the strength it can get. Eggs are not only soft and easy to swallow, but they’re also packed with protein. Other soft and easily digestible foods include mashed potatoes or tofu. These foods will satisfy your hunger without hurting your throat.
The Worst Foods For A Sore Throat
Potato Chips And Nuts: In general, a sore throat makes it difficult to eat. But you should definitely avoid rough-textured or hard foods such as chips, nuts, and granola. While these might be easy snack options, they can scratch your throat while going down.
Spicy Foods: Try to avoid anything that contains hot sauce, chili powder, curry, nutmeg, pepper or cloves. Spices can aggravate and worsen a sore throat. If you’re looking to add flavor, try adding fresh ginger or garlic, which can help reduce symptoms and help you recover faster.
The Best Foods For An Upset Stomach
Bananas, Applesauce, And Ginger: When you have an upset stomach, chances are food is the last thing on your mind. Still, you need to keep your energy up. Bananas and applesauce are rich in vitamin content but gentle on the stomach. They’re low-fiber, high-bonding foods. Applesauce contain pectin and other enzymes that help rid the body of irritating food particles. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory – people have used it as a gastrointestinal cure-all since ancient times. It’s also why parents give their toddlers flat ginger ale when they complain of an upset stomach.
Crackers Or Toast: It might not be the most decedent of meals, but plain, unsalted or lightly salted crackers and toast are great for stomach aches. In fact, crackers are often recommended for women dealing with morning sickness. These high-starch foods work to absorb excess stomach acid and relieve nausea.
The Worst Foods For An Upset Stomach
Cookies, Sweets, And Refined Sugars: Cookies and other sugary treats are comfort foods; they’re the perfect companions to days spent on the couch in front of the TV. However, refined sugars are not what your body needs when you’re sick. Sugary products bind with white blood cells and prevent them from efficiently fighting infection; in other words, the body is too distracted with detoxification to heal properly itself. Next time you’re sick, skip the chocolate chip cookies.
Fried Foods: Let’s face it – fried food isn’t good for you when you’re feeling your best, either. It’s loaded with unhealthy fats and can lead to obesity and high blood pressure when eaten excessively. However, fried foods are particularly bad for you when you’re sick. The greasy, fried foods can lead to acid reflux, heart burn and worsen your stomach pains. Plus, saturated fats are a source of inflammation in the body, which means that as your detoxification system tries to metabolize the fried food, your immune system won’t be running efficiently.
When you’re sick, you need to eat yourself healthy. The right dietary changes will have you on the road to recovery in no time.