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What to eat when you have the flu

Is the old saying ‘starve a fever, and feed a cold’ good advice?

Having flu may affect your appetite, but are there certain foods that are good to eat for flu symptoms?

Read more about vitamins and nutrients to help with flu recovery.

What are the benefits of nutrients in healing?

Nutrients are special compounds in foods that are essential for the body's repair, growth and wellness. Nutrients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and water, as well as the sources of calories - carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Some nutrients - called nonessential nutrients - are made by your body. Other nutrients - essential nutrients - must come from your diet. Any deficiency in nutrients can lead to illness if not corrected.

What foods help to fight infection with flu?

Whether you are sick or not, protein is always necessary to keep your body strong. Proteins are essential to help your body maintain and build strength. Lean meat, poultry, fish, pulses, dairy, eggs, and nuts and seeds are good sources of protein.

Nutrition experts recommend that adults eat approximately 50 grams of protein a day. Pregnant and nursing women need more. By eating foods high in protein, we also get the benefit of other healing nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12, both of which contribute to a healthy immune system.

Vitamin B6 is widely available in foods, including protein-rich foods such as turkey and pulses as well as potatoes, spinach and enriched cereal grains. Proteins such as meats, milk and fish also contain vitamin B12, a powerful immune booster.

Minerals such as selenium and zinc work to help keep the immune system strong. These minerals are found in protein-rich foods such as pulses, nuts, meat and poultry.

Can flavonoids boost immune function?

Flavonoids (or bioflavonoids) include about 4,000 compounds that are responsible for the colours of fruits and flowers. Findings show that flavonoids found in the soft white skin of citrus fruits increase immune system activation.

Flavonoids are found in grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes.

What other nutrients help to fight infections?

One nutrient that's found to help support the immune system so it can fight other infections is glutathione. This powerful antioxidant is most plentiful in the red, pulpy area of the watermelon near the rind. Glutathione is also found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli and cabbage.

What foods should I avoid and which should I eat if I'm congested with flu?

Actually, any food or drink is fine to eat if you're hungry or thirsty. In some people, dairy products increase mucus production. If this happens to you, avoid dairy for a few days. Dairy products may also make nausea and vomiting worse.

Orange juice, especially with the pulp, is packed with vitamin C and folic acid, which help to boost immunity and may help speed recovery from illness. 

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