Are flu symptoms disrupting your daily activities? Is it taking a long time to recover? Flu, or influenza infection, is seasonal. However, flu viruses and other pathogens such as bacteria are everywhere in our surroundings even if it’s not flu season. They are just waiting for the right timing to infect you, and that is when you are caught off-guard- when you’re stressed out and when your immune system is too weak to fight back. Hence, you are vulnerable to flu infection anytime!
Flu is a common health problem, and yet the majority of us do not know how to deal with it properly. REST, EAT and DRINK (R-E-D) are the keys. But we have to do it right!
A Myth or Fact: Should You Eat More When You Have Flu Symptoms?
Have you noticed that when you have flu, you often have poor appetite? You get out of track from your healthy eating habits, as foods seems unappetising. But, you hear everybody around you telling you to ‘eat so you will feel better.’ Sometimes, you might ask “What’s the sense in eating when you can’t appreciate the taste of the food?” You might even day dream about feeling better and eating all the foods that seemed tasteless and bland while you were sick.
The fact is you don’t need to wait for that moment! The idea of eating more when you have flu symptoms is not a myth; neither it is an old wives’ tale. Your body works double-time when you are sick, which means you need more calories during your ill state. The body is doing extra work, which is to help you recover. It deploys the white blood cells and antibodies (the body’s defence system) to ambush the flu virus, toxins and other harmful foreign bodies that worsen your flu symptoms. But hunting and fighting the cause of your symptoms doesn’t mean that your body has shut down its other functions. Your heart continuously works on pumping blood. Your brain processes information and commands all bodily functions and so on. These are just some of the organs or systems, and there are more of them. The main thought is that each organ system does its work as usual even when you’re sick, plus an extra load to help you recuperate. This is why it is significant to maintain the healthy eating habits that you had from your pre-illness period. Never skip your meals and EAT MORE when you are hungry! But make sure you’re eating the right foods, as there are foods that can worsen your flu symptoms.
Your loss of appetite is partly caused by the release of the body chemicals, cytokines. These chemicals are used by the immune system (the body’s defence system against diseases) to coordinate the proper response against infections such as influenza (flu). Hormonal factors when you’re sick also cause loss of appetite.
Your poor appetite is a way for the body to divert energy consumption. Instead of distributing the energy sources to other body processes such as digestion, the energy is focused in fuelling the immune system for faster recovery from flu symptoms. However, this doesn’t mean you are free to starve yourself! If you consume fewer calories than your body requires, you will compromise other bodily functions. That will delay recovery or your condition might even get worse.
How to Modify Your Diet for Faster Flu Recovery
Your healthy eating habits can be modified according to your flu symptoms. Usually, you will suffer from fever, body weakness or muscle pains, headache, coughing and runny or stuffy nose.
Aside from these, you will likely experience loss of appetite due to accompanying digestive symptoms of flu such as sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Make a diet plan that will not result in stomach upset or aggravate other influenza virus symptoms. Your eating habits should keep you well-nourished while you have the flu. Thus, it is best to know the foods that will speed up your recovery and the foods that you need to avoid, as they can worsen flu symptoms.
If you have flu accompanied with digestive symptoms and poor appetite, small frequent feeding is highly recommended. This requires you to eat smaller portions of food, but more frequently, to meet your body calorie requirement. Remember, you might experience several digestive symptoms that include vomiting. So, it is not a good idea to eat a lot all at once. EATING MORE means eating a continuous supplement of energy-boosting, nutrient-rich and high-water-content foods throughout your illness.
5 Super Foods To Fight Flu Symptoms
It’s not enough to just say ‘eat more.’You should also ask yourself,”What should I eat to beat my flu symptoms?”
There are foods recommended to make you recover faster from flu symptoms. So, you need a better diet plan based on the specific health benefits that these foods can provide. Know your flu symptoms and think of foods that can ward them off. You have to remember that practicing healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits is not limited to preventing sickness and maintaining your body at its healthy state. You must practise it more when you are unwell. The following is the list of foods that are highly recommended if you are suffering from flu symptoms:
1. Eat some citrus fruit. Let’s cut off the myth that citrus fruits can cure flu. No, it can’t. Flu is a viral infection. Recovery can occur by taking antiviral medications, depending on the strain of flu virus. However, the common flu is a self-limiting illness, which means it heals according to the natural course. Then, how can citrus fruits contribute to your recovery? Citrus fruits such as grapefruits, limes, lemons, oranges, and so on, have flavonoids and vitamin C, which are antioxidants that enhance the protective function of the immune system against viruses, other pathogens, toxins and free-radicals. This implies that citrus fruits speed up your recovery by helping your body to boost its healing capacity through a more efficient immune function.
2. Sip some soup that is broth-based. Chicken noodle soup is highly recommended for flu! High fever in flu, vomiting and diarrhoea (in some flu cases) all increase fluid loss, which heightens your risk of becoming dehydrated. The soup serves as a fluid replacement. Moreover, the chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid that makes the mucus in the lungs and respiratory tract thinner. This makes it easier to cough out phlegm (mucus). The warm broth is also soothing for the throat, and it moistens your nasal passages. If you add up some healthy veggies, then you will have even more ingredients to stop nasal congestion and other inflammatory processes that take place due to flu infection.
3. Have some crackers and toast. Choose plain crackers and toast, not salted or maybe just with light salt. Crackers and toast are bland foods, which help reduce stomach upset. This helps a lot, particularly after vomiting. Crackers and toast are easy to digest foods as well.
4. Add bananas to your diet. When your flu is accompanied with digestive symptoms, particularly those that make you lose too much fluid (e.g. vomiting, diarrhoea), you are surely losing potassium and other electrolytes. This causes your body weakness and muscle pains. Eating bananas can help you replenish electrolytes that you’ve lost along with the fluids.
5. Drink lots of water or have some hot tea with honey and lemon. When you have the flu, you are at high risk of getting dehydrated. That’s why broth-based soup was recommended earlier. However, you also need to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, or even more, particularly if you’ve been vomiting, having diarrhoea and fever. Water can help flush out the virus by keeping your mucus (phlegm) moistened. This allows your mucus to trap more flu viruses easily, and then you can cough or blow them out through your nose. Thus, water is your primary source for fluid replacement.
Moreover, hot tea can help relieve nasal congestion (stuffy nose) by making your mucus thinner, particularly the mucus that accumulates in your nasal cavities. It can also keep you warm to reduce chills. You can try chamomile tea as this can boost your immune function and reduce stomach upset. Adding honey and lemon to hot water or tea is another healthy option. Both honey and lemon can soothe and shrink infection in your sore throat – plus they are packed with antioxidants that support good immune function.
3 Foods That Will Worsen Flu
The foods listed above are the ‘must eat’ when you have flu symptoms. However, you also need to avoid certain foods in your healthy eating plan, the foods to avoid. These are the foods that can either delay your recovery period or foods that can worsen your symptoms.
1.Cut off consumption of high sugar foods. Increased sugar intake suppresses the immune system. It reduces the responsiveness of the neutrophils, components of the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting disease-causing microorganisms including the flu virus. So, it is not a good idea to ingest more sweets when you have flu symptoms.
2. Avoid intake of fatty foods. Fatty foods on the other hand, are more difficult to digest compared to protein sources and carbs foods. Eating them can even worsen your stomach upset.
3. Say ‘No” to spicy foods. Spicy foods must also be avoided. They can irritate your throat and can cause stomach discomfort.
Aside from maintaining healthy eating habits when you have flu symptoms, don’t forget to REST well for faster recovery.
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