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The Best Things to Eat When You Have the Flu

author image Hannah Rice Myers
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.
The Best Things to Eat When You Have the Flu
The flu is a respiratory illness. Photo Credit: goldyrocks/iStock/Getty Images

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Five to 20 percent of the American population comes down with the flu each year, while 200,000 people find themselves in the hospital due to complications from the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations are available each year to help protect you from flu, but if your immune system fails you, certain foods can help you get through a bout of the flu.

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Try the BRAT Diet

Eat a bland diet.
Eat a bland diet. Photo Credit: Jaimie Duplass/Hemera/Getty Images

The BRAT diet is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, all of which are good choices when you suffer from nausea, upset stomach and/or diarrhea. Joanne Larsen of AsktheDietitian states that these foods, along with beverages such as hot tea and apple juice, help control diarrhea. Both bananas and apples are sources of pectin, a soluble fiber which helps watery stools become more solid.

Replace Lost Body Fluids

Make sure you're replacing lost bodily fluids.
Make sure you're replacing lost bodily fluids. Photo Credit: Eric Hood/iStock/Getty Images

Vomiting is one symptom that may accompany the flu, although it is more common in children than adults, according to To combat the vomiting, refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least one hour from the last incident. At this time, sip 2 ounces of water or some type of carbonated, lemon-lime beverage that is flat. If these stay down, try another 2 ounces of either beverage every 15 to 20 minutes. After a few hours, begin adding more beverages such as juice, hot tea, fruit juice or drinks, soup broth and jello. These will help replace lost body fluids without upsetting your stomach.

Stock up on Chicken Soup

Chicken soup can help get you feeling better.
Chicken soup can help get you feeling better. Photo Credit: Jolanta Dabrowska/iStock/Getty Images

Chicken soup is called nature's penicillin, according to It can help clear nasal congestion and is an easy way of getting the vegetables needed to boost your immunity. You can add bits of carrots, potatoes and squash. For an extra boost of healing power, add some cayenne pepper. The editors at Fitness magazine state that the capsaicin in the powder helps thin the mucus in your lungs and nasal passages.

Reach for the Ginger Root

Fresh ginger root can help reduce fever and coughing.
Fresh ginger root can help reduce fever and coughing. Photo Credit: myistock88/iStock/Getty Images

Fresh ginger root, according to, may help reduce both the fever and incessant coughing that often come with flu. To make your own ginger tea, simply grate two tablespoons of fresh ginger into a coffee filter and then pour one cup of boiling water over it. Let it steep for 10 minutes, then sip.

Try More Garlic

Garlic is a good decongestant and flu-fighting agent.
Garlic is a good decongestant and flu-fighting agent. Photo Credit: Yelena Yemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Garlic is an excellent decongestant and flu-fighting agent for a couple of different reasons. First, it contains alliin, which fights chest congestion. Second, it is a wonderful source of antioxidants, which help destroy the free radicals in your body that are damaging your cells.

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