A yearly vaccine is the best way to avoid getting the flu, and medical attention (including antiviral medication) may be needed if you're severely ill. Still, these delicious, nutritious foods could help you feel better, and may help lessen symptoms such as a sore throat, aches and pains, weakness and nausea.
Ginger. Research suggests that compounds in the ginger plant may help reduce inflammation and increase the speed of digestion. Ginger has been proven to help prevent nausea too. Sipping on ginger-lemon tea will provide all the immune-boosting benefits ginger has to offer, while acting as a natural lozenge for the throat.
Garlic. Both aged and raw garlic contain a type of fiber called fructans, which can help you digest food better and even jump-start the immune system. So if you're experiencing any diarrhea or queasiness with the flu, give garlic a try. To really reap all of its benefits, chop up raw garlic and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare other ingredients. Some experts believe garlic extracts can help our bodies ward off several different viruses, including influenza and rhinovirus (cause of the common cold).
Beef. If you've got a stash of frozen beef in the freezer, thaw some when you feel any signs of the flu coming on. It's time to make some stew! Beef contains high amounts of zinc, an essential mineral. Low zinc levels weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses, including the flu. Consuming zinc-rich foods — like beef — may be protective during flu season.
Beans. They're high in fiber and minerals, but beans' main flu-fighting component is protein. When you're weakened by an illness, protein helps build your body back up by balancing fluid, enhancing the immune system's response and building and repairing cells. Since beans probably don't top your list of cravings while you're sick, try adding them (or other protein-rich foods) to a comforting soup to get your fill.
Citrus fruits. Oranges — and all the other citrus fruits — are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that impact the body in healthy ways. The star: vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system. Research on the common cold has found that people who regularly take vitamin C supplements may have milder symptoms and a shorter duration of illness.
Chicken soup. There's scientific evidence backing the power of a warm bowl of chicken soup to make you feel better when you're experiencing flu or cold symptoms. Lab research has found that chicken soup could potentially help reduce respiratory tract inflammation by triggering the white blood cells in your body that work to defend against infection. Plus, just the steam from hot soup of any kind is sure to loosen up stuffy sinuses and provide some warm comfort.