Flu-Fighting Foods

The Best Dishes for When You Are Sick

Flu season is around the corner, and while preventative measures such as vaccination and hand washing can mitigate risk, up to 20% of the U.S. population is infected by influenza each year. When sick, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy, nutritious diet. The right foods can soothe flu symptoms and help your body get the sustenance it needs to fight the virus. Read on to learn which foods to reach for – and which not to – next time you or a loved one is recovering from the flu.


Your body needs fluids to function at its best, and this is especially true when sick. Fluids can also be easier to stomach when feeling unwell. In addition to drinking plenty of water, consider the following fluids for their soothing and nourishing benefits:

  • Hot, herbal teas can ease sore throats, plus the steam helps clear up stuffy noses. Try adding honey for additional soothing properties and to reduce coughing.
  • Broths, including chicken, beef, and vegetable, are a nutritious fluid option. Rich in antioxidants and easy on the stomach, broths are a great alternative to solid food.
  • Electrolyte-rich beverages replenish important minerals your body needs and boost hydration. Make sure to monitor sugar intake, as excess sugar can cause inflammation and hinder the healing process.


Sugar-free popsicles made from 100% fruit juice are another way to stay hydrated and work in extra nutrients. They can soothe irritated throats and offer a cooling effect when dealing with fever.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is the go-to food when sick, and for good reason. With a hydrating broth, nutrient-packed veggies, and protein-rich chicken, it’s the perfect well-rounded meal. Studies show that the ingredients in chicken noodle soup can reduce inflammation and even improve your immune system’s response.


Snack on low-fiber and low-fat carbs such as pretzels, saltine crackers, and toast. Working these easy-to-digest foods into your diet can help fuel your body and keep hunger at bay.

Vitamin C-Rich Fruits & Veggies

Vitamin C strengthens your immune system as it fights the flu. Reach for citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, along with veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes. If solid food isn’t appetizing, try substituting natural fruit or vegetable juices to pack vitamins into a liquid diet.


Ginger can ease upset stomachs and nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infection. Add shredded or powdered ginger to foods or have a mug of ginger tea.

Foods to Avoid

Some foods can actually worsen flu symptoms. Steer clear of foods high in fats and sugar, along with dairy products, which can worsen congestion. Beverages such as coffee, soda, and energy drinks do more harm than good, as their high caffeine levels are dehydrating. Avoid alcohol, which weakens the immune system and keeps your body from fighting at its strongest.

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