Consuming the right foods when you’re sick is more important than ever. After all Hippocrates quote ‘’Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food’’ stayed in history for a reason.
Certain foods contain powerful properties and antioxidants that help the body fight off an illness. They may relieve certain symptoms or contribute towards a faster recovery.
Here’s a list of the 15 best foods to eat when sick.
1 – Chicken Soup
Chicken soup has been considered as a remedy for the common cold for hundreds of years – probably for a good reason.
It’s a great source of electrolytes and fluids, both of which are essential for hydration. Its an easy way to receive vital sources such as minerals, vitamins, protein and calories – all needed in larger quantities when ill.
If you have fever your body will need even more fluids.
A study found that chicken soup is more effective at clearing nasal mucus compared to other liquid studied. Perhaps the fact that it gives off hot steam makes it a natural decongestant.
Last but not least, chicken contains the amino acid cysteine which contains anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
2 – Broths
Another brilliant source of hydration is broth.
They don’t lack flavor, and can contain vitamins and minerals like calcium, folate, magnesium and phosphorus. It also acts a natural decongestant when hot. It is especially helpful if you are not able to keep down solid foods and have an unsettled stomach.
However, most broths are very high in salt so best to go for a low-sodium option if you are sensitive to salt.
It may have even more benefits, if you make broth from scratch.
3 – Garlic
The health benefits of Garlic are aplenty.
Garlic has been consumed for centuries as a medicinal herb. It has demonstrated antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial effects.
Some studies have found and explored the effect of garlic on the common cold and flu. One of them found that people who consumed more garlic got sick less often, compared to placebo group.
Another study revealed that people consuming garlic had a faster recovery than the placebo group, on average.
Chicken soups and broths can be more effective in fighting the cold if garlic is added to them.
Bottom line Garlic is great and can fight viruses, bacteria and boost the immune system.
4 – Coconut Water
One of the most important things you can do when sick is staying well hydrated. Especially when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea which cause a loss in water and electrolytes.
Coconut water is the perfect drink to sip on when you’re sick for various reasons.
Apart from having a lot flavor, it contains glucose and electrolytes needed for rehydration. It also causes less stomach discomfort than similar beverages.
Furthermore, a few studies showed that coconut water contains antioxidants than can fight oxidative damage and may help control blood sugar levels.
A downside is that it causes more bloating compared to other electrolyte drinks. It might be a good idea to take it slow.
5 – Hot Tea
A favorite remedy for many symptoms related with colds and the flu is Tea.
Just like chicken soup and broth, hot tea acts as a natural decongestant that helps to clear the sinuses of mucus. It should be hot to work but not too hot that may cause further irritation to your throat.
Sipping on tea throughout the day is an excellent way to help you stay hydrated while relieving congestion at the same time.
Polyphenols, a natural plant substance is found in tea which have numerous health benefits. Ranging from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to anti-cancer effects.
One type of polyphenol is tannin, containing antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
One study found that tannic acid in black tea could reduce the amount of a common type of bacteria that grows in the throat.
Other teas studied are hibiscus and echinacea that have been found to minimize the growth of avian flu.
Tea is surely an important part of your diet when you’re sick.
Due to its high content of antimicrobial complexes, honey has strong antibacterial effects.
Ancient Egyptians used honey due to its powerful antibacterial effects for wound dressings, and is still used to this day.
Some evidence advocates that honey is capable to stimulate the immune system.
These qualities make honey an excellent source of food to consume when sick, particularly if you have a sore throat triggered by a bacterial infection.
Several studies show it suppresses children’s cough. Even though, it is advised not to be consumed by children under the age of 12 months.
It is advised to mix about half a teaspoon of honey with a warm glass of milk, tea or even warm water. This drink is cough soothing, hydrating and antibacterial.
A flowering plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Ginger is one of the healthiest spices on the planet that has many powerful benefits for your brain and body.
Ginger seems to be extremely effective against nausea, however it may not be as effective when it comes to morning sickness related to pregnancy.
More importantly, ginger demonstrates anti-cancer, antioxidant and antimicrobial effects and acts in in a similar way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Subsequently, ginger is the best food to consume when feeling nauseous or throwing up. Even if you are not feeling nauseous, it’s still an excellent source to consume when feeling unwell.
Brew some ginger tea or use fresh ginger in meals. To receive all the benefits, make sure you use real ginger and not just ginger flavor.
Spicy foods contain capsaicin, which can cause a burning effect when touched.
Capsaicin can have a pacifying effect when its concentration levels are high enough and is frequently used in patches and pain-relieving gels.
As manly people claim, eating spicy food causes a runny nose. This helps to break up mucus and clear out the sinus passages.
Even though not many studies have tested this effect, capsaicin does appear to thin out mucus making it easier to eject. Nasal capsaicin sprays are a good example as they been used for this reason and with respectable results.
Capsaicin has another benefit which is cough relief. One study found that the intake of capsaicin capsules enhanced symptoms in people with a chronic cough by making them less sensitive to irritation.
With that being said, in order to be able to achieve these results you would have to consume spicy foods on a daily basis for quite a few weeks.
Moreover, avoid spicy food if you already have an upset stomach as it can cause pain, bloating and nausea for some.
A great choice to eat when sick for many reasons.
They provide a satisfactory amount of nutrients and calories, and also easy to chew.
They are part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) for the above reasons which is often suggested for nausea.
The soluble fiber they contain is another great benefit. The fiber in bananas can help relieve diarrhea.
Some hospitals even use banana flakes to treat patients that have diarrhea.
In fact, some hospitals use banana flakes to treat patients with diarrhea.
Oatmeal is another easy food to eat while providing the minerals, vitamins and calories you need when sick.
It also provides protein – around 5grams in ½ cup.
Other important and powerful health benefits are the stimulation of the immune system and improvement of blood sugar control.
Symptoms such as intestinal cramping, diarrhea and bloating can also be relieved with the consumption of oats, as one rat study revealed that beta-glucan (type of fiber) found in oats, helps reduce inflammation in the gut.
To gain more of the benefits of oats, avoid artificial flavored oatmeal that consist of a lot of added sugar.
An excellent food to eat when sick.
It contains 150 calories and 8 grams of protein per cup. The cold temperature can help sooth your throat.
It is also full of vitamins, minerals and rich in calcium.
Beneficial properties are also found in some yogurts.
Some evidence shows that probiotics may help both adults and children have a faster recovery when ill, get colds less often and take less antibiotics.
According to one study, children that took probiotics felt better about 2 days faster and 55% less severe symptoms.
People have been reporting that dairy intake thickens mucus, Even though several studies have shown that there is no correlation between dairy intake and mucus production, along with congestions and cough.
Nevertheless, you can try fermented foods containing probiotics, if you feel that dairy products deteriorate your congestion.
Fruits can be helpful when sick.
They support your body and immune system as they are rich in vitamins, fiber and minerals.
Anthocyanin is a beneficial compound found in some fruits, which are types of flavonoids that give fruits their purple, blue and red color. Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries are one of the best sources.
They also contain strong antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect making them an excellent food to eat.
Add some berries to your oatmeal or yogurt for more added benefits.
Even though the avocado is low in carbs, its relatively high in fat. Particularly monosaturated fat which is healthy fat (same found in olive oil)
Avocados are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are easy to eat when sick and they provide the vitamins and calories your body needs.
Oleic acid found in avocados helps to reduce inflammation and function of the immune system.
Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach and romaine lettuce are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate can be found in these vegetables.
Plant compounds in dark green vegetables act as antioxidants to protect cells from damage and help fight inflammation
Leafy greens have also been used for their antibacterial properties.
Toss some kale in your smoothie or add spinach to an omelet for a nutrient-packed and rich in protein meal.
One of the best protein sources to eat when sick is salmon.
Its packed with proteins your body need, soft and easy to eat.
Salmon is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is what gives it it’s strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Vitamin D is also found in Salmon which is a Vitamin many people are lacking.
To Sum up
To have a faster and easier recovery its as equally important to rest, drink fluids and consume the right nutrients.
Eating the right foods can boost your body immune system and help relieve certain symptoms.