Cold and flu viruses are constantly mutating with slight changes in the structure of their DNA. This makes it virtually impossible for a person's body to develop immunity to these viruses. When an individual comes down with a cold or flu, the body responds by making antibodies to fight the invading virus particles. Although the individual will become immune to that specific strain of virus, those antibodies will be useless against future cold and flu viruses that have mutated.
While a cold is no walk in the park, coming down with the flu can leave you exhausted and run down for weeks. Unlike a bacterial infection, viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Your body, however, can speed up the healing process and help kick that virus to the curb, by eating a healthy diet. Below are the top 10 foods to eat for the flu.
Drinking plenty of water is crucial if you are suffering from the flu. In addition to keeping you hydrated, drinking water will help to loosen congestion and thin secretions, making it easier for you to expel the mucus from your body. Water is a much better choice than caffeinated beverages which have a diuretic effect and can lead to dehydration, and sugary juices that can inhibit your body's ability to fight off the virus.
In addition to all of the benefits of water, Ice pops (Popsicles) can have a soothing effect for a flu-induced sore throat by temporarily numbing the area. It can also help alleviate the gagging reflex that sometimes occurs with the flu as a result of post nasal mucus drip. Remember that all ice pop brands are not created equally. Steer clear of brands that contain a high dose of sugar or are filled with artificial flavorings. Opt instead for natural brands that are made from pure, 100 percent fruit juice.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from popsicles are hot drinks such as tea. Hot tea may be even more effective at relieving congestion and thinning out mucus secretions, especially those that build up in the sinus cavities. Drinking a hot cup of tea will have an instant warming effect, which can be helpful with the chills and shivers that often occur with the flu. The polyphenols that are present in tea are known antioxidants, which can help boost the fighting power of your taxed immune system. Popular tea choices when suffering from the flu are green, decaffeinated black and herbal.
This age old remedy has withstood the test of time, and for good reason. Because it is a hot liquid, it will have the same beneficial effects as drinking water and hot tea. In addition, the chicken itself may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, helping to decrease swelling that occurs in the nasal and sinus passages. The vegetables that are often added to the chicken broth are chock full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that can help speed recovery.
Another way to stay hydrated is to opt for fresh vegetable juice. Unlike fruit juices, vegetable juice is generally low in sugar. Drinking the juice of vegetables allows you to consume all of the immune-boosting antioxidants found in vegetables without having to force down a plate of veggies, a task that can be difficult when you have no appetite.
One food in particular that is known as a superpower in the health community is garlic. Chock full of antioxidants, garlic is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent that can help speed the healing process in individuals suffering from the flu. Spicy, flavorful garlic might not taste so great, but it has the power to destroy microbes while also easing congestion pain.
Poultry is a lean, healthy source of protein, which may be just what your body requires in its weakened state. Eating protein when you are sick with the flu can give your body the energy it requires to fight off the illnesses. Although the body is very resilient and can handle most illnesses without assistance, a boost of protein can energize the immune system and aid in recovery.
When you're on the mend, one of the worst decisions you can make is to jump into a rich, heavy food after several days of consuming a mostly liquid diet. Foods that ease the transition back to your normal eating habits will allow your stomach to adjust without causing nausea or bloating. Bananas are a great transition food because of both their soft consistency. They are also high in potassium, which can help relieve muscle aches and cramps, a common flu symptom.
Before the pink liquid medicine became a catch-all remedy for anything associated with an upset stomach, ginger was used to effectively treat stomach aches, diarrhea and nausea. If you are dealing with stomach issues associated with the flu, grated or sliced raw ginger can help to soothe your stomach. You can also drink ginger ale that is flavored with real ginger root extracts. Just be sure to opt for natural ginger ale and avoid those made with mostly high fructose corn syrup and large amounts of sugar.
Although bread or crackers will not do much to boost the immune system or aid in your body's recovery, they are another food that can be introduced slowly into the stomach after days of only liquids. Bread and crackers can help to absorb excess stomach acid and the texture helps convince the stomach that it is full without overdoing it. Select plain breads rather than flavored types and stick with unflavored crackers as well. Lightly toasting the bread can help reduce nausea even more if you find that the bread alone is too pasty.
While influenza typically has to run its course, consuming these foods regularly and consistently during the course of the illness may help to alleviate symptoms, prevent dehydration and speed recovery time. A combination of a healthy, balanced diet and lots of rest and relaxation is the best treatment for the flu.