Want to know what to eat when sick? This list has several fantastic foods and ingredients that should be on your menu.
When not feeling well, some of the most important things you can do to feel better and recover quicker are to rest, drink plenty of fluids and fuel your body with healthy foods.
Why what you eat is important
No one likes or wants to be sick and when it happens, a speedy recovery is all you want. And good food choices are a big part of that. That’s why it’s imperative to choose foods known for boosting your immune system, fighting off the illness, and setting you back on the road to being healthy.
Why you should eat when sick
While no food alone can cure sickness, eating the right foods can support your body’s immune functioning helping relieve certain symptoms. These foods have that extra bit of magic elixir that goes above and beyond what others may offer. It will also provide sustenance for your body to fight whatever bacteria or virus that has infected it.
Do all foods apply to all sicknesses?
Though this list is addressing what you should eat while you’re sick, make sure you know that different illnesses require different foods to make you feel better. For instance, if you have diarrhea you want to stick mostly to the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, apples/applesauce, and toast. Or, if you have a sore throat try not to eat foods that will scratch it more, look more for softer foods. Basically, follow this list as a guide, but always listen to your body first and foremost.
The Best Foods to Eat When Sick:
1. Chicken Soup
All food lists advising what to eat when sick include chicken soup. This perennial favorite is a must when under the weather as it provides fluids and electrolytes along with anti-inflammatory properties propping up your immune system. You can use canned chicken soup but the best tasting is homemade
Raw garlic is a natural remedy for fighting colds and flu. If you don’t mind bad breath, one popular fold remedy is to eat a spoonful of raw, chopped garlic cloves – garlic contains a powerful antibacterial compound called allicin which is thought to improve immune functioning.
3. Green Tea
There are various compounds in green tea that may stimulate your immune system and may slow down the growth and proliferation of some pathogens. Plus it provides fluids we need when not feeling well.
If you have a cough, remember to try honey. There have been studies showing that honey is effective at reducing cough frequency and improving sleep quality. Honey does have a soothing effect on the throat and when mixed with lemon juice – it’s a great combo providing natural, soothing relief and easing discomfort. Never give honey to an infant younger than 1 year of age as it carries a risk of botulism.
Similar to chicken soup, broths are excellent sources of hydration when feeling sick. Rich in flavor, they also contain vitamins and minerals along with potassium and phosphorus. They also make you feel satisfied without feeling overly full if your tummy is queasy.
6. Coconut Water
Here is another excellent food for hydration, particularly if you are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or running a fever. This sweet and flavorful drink not only contains glucose but also electrolytes needed for re-hydration.
If you’re feeling nauseated or throwing up, reach for ginger. It has been shown to be effective for relieving nausea in addition to having antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.
Looking for food that is ready to eat? Bananas are your answer. Easy to chew and bland in flavor, bananas provide some soluble fiber which can help to relieve diarrhea while still providing calories and nutrients.
Here is another bland but not boring food to eat when sick. Oatmeal not only will provide calories, vitamins, and minerals but also can stimulate the immune system by decreasing inflammation in the gut. This just might help relieve any symptoms of intestinal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
Here is an excellent food to eat when sick. The probiotics found in yogurt can create a healthier gut while improving immune function. It is also rich in important nutrients of calcium, potassium, and protein.
The only fruit to contain fat yet that fat it contains provides a substance called oleic acid, helping to reduce inflammation which plays a role in immune function. Its healthy monounsaturated fat is the same type found in olive oil and avocados are also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
All fruit can be beneficial when sick – each is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, supporting your body and immune system. But berries rise to the top and should be by your bedside when not feeling well. The reason? Berries contain a compound called anthocyanins, known for having anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting effects. Anthocyanins also provide the vibrant red, blue and purple colors of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Several studies have found that fruit extracts high in anthocyanins can inhibit common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells. They also stimulate the body’s immune response meaning you are likely to have a speedier recovery.
Be sure to add some berries to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt or blend frozen berries into a cold smoothing to soothe a sore throat.
13. Spicy Foods
When you eat spicy foods, this often causes a runny nose. This is especially helpful when you are sick, because it is breaking up all the mucus stuck in your sinuses. Spicy foods like chili peppers also contain capsaicin, which is the possible reason as to why these foods break up mucus buildup. But, if you already have an upset stomach, stay away from this food.
14. Green Leafy Veggies
Leafy green veggies might sound confusing, but it is referring to vegetables such as spinach, romaine, and kale. These greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also specifically contain vitamin K, vitamin C, plant-based iron, and folate. You can either eat these by themselves or add them to other dishes to add that exact bit of vitamins to a meal.
Salmon is one of those foods that you should always eat when you’re not sick, because of all its health benefits. That being said, salmon is a rich source of protein and is soft, making it easy to eat and nutritious. This fish is also high in omega-3s, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for a nasty cold.
Rice is one of those magical “BRAT” foods that can provide nutrition and stay in your body, especially if you are struggling with diarrhea. It’s easy to make as well, providing something to eat while your strength is depleted.
Another one of the “BRAT” foods is bread or toast. This more bland food tends to stay in upset stomachs better, and can keep you full due to the grains.
18. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice contains polyphenols, which can hold certain anti-inflammatory benefits. It can also provide electrolytes, energy, and fluids during a time when you do not want to eat anything. Similar to the leafy greens, you can add this to a smoother or just drink it plain.
Kiwi, similar to oranges, are packed with vitamin C. But what separates them from their citrus counterpart is that kiwis contain more vitamin C than oranges, making them a better choice to have when you are sick. They can either be eaten alone or combined with something else, like a smoothie.
20. Citrus Fruit
Like the kiwi, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits contain vitamin C, perfect for fighting against colds. It can help reduce the severity of your symptoms, so even though you may still be sick you will feel a little better. But, if you’re having stomach issues, try to stay away as it may irritate your stomach more.
Foods You Should Avoid
- Acidic foods
- Junk food (Processed)
- Sports Drinks
- Artificial Sweeteners
Next time you happen to get sick, make sure to refer to this list to make sure you’re putting the best foods in your body. Take care of your body at its weakest moments and it will thank you in the long run.