Flu is different from common colds and other seasonal viral respiratory infections. There are many viruses that can cause colds and coughs but only the influenza virus causes the flu. These flu viruses are also of different types- types A and B can cause severe flu whereas type C causes mild infection. Boosting your immunity is the best defense against the flu. If your diet is poor or you sleep little, then chances are that your immune system will be very weak. This invites flu and other viruses to attack it. Flu fighting foods can help strengthen immunity and fight flu pathogens before they spread.
Here is a list of foods to eat when you have the flu and also for prevention.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with beta carotene which is a derivative of Vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. Beta carotene and other caratenoids act as antioxidants to fight free radicals and prevent various diseases including the flu. Eat plenty of sweet potatoes as soon as the weather turns cold.
Rich in probiotic bacteria, yogurt is one of the best foods for fighting flu, gastroenteritis and other viral and bacterial infections. The good bacteria strengthen the immune system and defend the body against many pathogens. However, eating yogurt may not be the best thing to do when you have a cough and sore throat.
3. Green tea
The high epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG content of green tea is very beneficial in strengthening the body’s natural defenses against bacteria and viruses. Drink 2-3 cups of green tea to not just boost immunity but also fight unhealthy food cravings and ward off obesity.
4. Fruits and vegetables
No other food group is as beneficial in fighting the flu as much as fruits and veggies are. They are packed with vitamins and minerals especially vitamin C which keeps the immune system functioning as it should. Choose fruits and vegetables of different colors as they provide different vitamins. Also choose varieties with darker skin colors as they indicate higher vitamin content. Here are some of the best veggies and fruits that fight colds and flu: oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons, green bell peppers, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, dark green leafy vegetables and tomatoes. Red bell peppers are especially considered as the best flu fighting foods as they contain twice the amount of vitamin C as that of an orange.
5. Chicken soup
There is a reason why grandma always recommended soup for the flu and colds. Chicken soup made with pepper, garlic and chicken stock helps reduce mucus, strengthens immunity, and reduces inflammation in the nose and throat. Not only is this flu fighting food easy to swallow when you have a painful, sore throat; it is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
6. Bone broth
More and more people are discovering the amazing health benefits of drinking bone broth. Bone broth is known to enhance health and overall well being. It is one of the best superfoods for anti aging and disease prevention. Bone broth is made by boiling bones of chicken, veal, fish, duck, lamb etc along with herbs, spices and vinegar. The resulting broth is full of proteins, vitamins and minerals which helps strengthen the immune system and also aids in weight loss. Drinking 2-3 cups of bone broth in fall and winter can prevent flu, colds and coughs.
Wild caught salmon is known to boost immunity and decrease inflammation. People suffering from respiratory infections can benefit from consumption of wild salmon. You can also eat selenium rich oysters that help guard against bacteria and viruses. Sea food like cod, tuna, salmon, halibut, prawns etc are all rich in zinc which aids the healing response for quick recovery from flu.
Garlic is associated with antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant aspects. It may even contain cancer fighting properties. Eat foods made with garlic such as soups, broths and stews. You can also roast fresh garlic cloves or consume raw garlic for flu. Many people have befitted by drinking garlic infused brandy or wine each night. This simple remedy boosts immunity and fights aging as well as common diseases. Like garlic, ginger which contains gingerol, can also boost immunity and protect against infections.
Nuts like Almonds and Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and Vitamin E. These antioxidants can boost the immune system and strengthen the body against attack from various pathogens.
Not many people know it but mushrooms are the best foods to fight colds and flu. They are rich in selenium and have the power to kill viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells. Maitake and Shitake mushroom varieties provide beta glutans to the body which strengthen the immunity. Research has shown that beta glutans regulate white blood cells and modulate the immune function.
Now you know 10 of the best foods to eat to fight viral infections like the flu. Eat these foods regularly to keep airborne diseases like flu away.