flu-season foods to eat

What to Eat During Cold & Flu Season

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To keep your body healthy and prepared to fight off germs, it’s always a good idea to pile your plate with tons of nourishing foods! But what should you eat, exactly? Follow these tips and add these foods to your shopping list during cold and flu season.

Tip #1: Go for antioxidants.

Naturally occurring antioxidants help cells function more efficiently during our body’s natural immune response. Enjoy foods high in antioxidants such as:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Leafy greens
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic (fresh)
  • Black tea

Tip #2: Opt for probiotic-rich foods.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that support digestive health and the immune system. Eat foods that contain probiotics, including:

  • Yogurt (with live and active cultures)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

The Best Foods to Eat When Sick

Wondering what to eat when you have a cold or the flu? You may have been told to “feed a cold, starve a fever,” but these wives’ tales are nothing more than common misconceptions. If you do end up catching a cold or the flu this season, remember to eat well-balanced meals and snacks, including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, proteins and dairy, to help get you back on your feet quicker! Consider including a few of the nourishing antioxidant foods and probiotic foods above to support a healthy immune response.

In addition to eating well, it’s also important to drink lots of water. You should aim for at least 2 liters a day, or more if you have a fever. If you want something other than plain water, consider sparkling water or broth. Hydration is important to ensuring our immune system can function on all cylinders and ultimately keep our bodies healthy.

You may not have much of an appetite if you’re feeling crummy, however it’s still important to ensure adequate nutrition and hydration. Nourishing foods provide our immune system with the gas to fill the tank and keep on fighting! If your appetite is low, consider starting with small portions of bland items, such as broth, black tea or yogurt. Also, try to avoid foods or drinks that may not supplement a healthy immune response, such as alcohol, caffeinated beverages or highly processed items.

Other Ways to Support Health This Season

In addition to eating healthy, remember to wash your hands regularly, keep your distance from sick contacts, wear a mask when recommended by the CDC and get your COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Plus, read more about even more ways to support your immune system, like getting adequate sleep and reducing stress.

You may not be able to completely avoid getting sick, but know that by practicing the recommendations provided above, your body is in the best possible shape to fight viruses quicker and with generally fewer complications.

If you’re feeling under the weather this flu season, schedule an appointment with one of our expert healthcare providers who can recommend the right food and medicine to help get you on the right track to feeling better! For more healthy tips, check out our Healthy Living page.

References: Immune Health. (2018). Better Nutrition, 30–32.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide healthcare recommendations. For health concerns, please see a healthcare provider.