There is a very good chance that you will have a sniffle this cold season. The right nutrients can help your body fight illness. It is not how much you eat, but what you eat that will help reduce the effects of the flu. That is why we have come up with simple plans on good food to eat when sick. These foods will help you ease the symptoms, boost your immune system and ensure a speedy recovery.

What to Eat When Sick for Faster Recovery


Mushroom omelet

Eggs contain a lot of zinc, which is a great immune booster. Research has shown that taking zinc within 24 hours of getting a cold can reduce its duration. Mushrooms are also immune powerhouses as they make white blood cells more effective. Spicy salsa on the side will help ease congestion and drain the sinuses.



Probiotics found in yoghurt are great fighters of flu. They help reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Scientists have proved that the beneficial bacteria make the symptoms less severe by 34% and reduce the duration of the cold by about two days. Plain yoghurt sweetened with a tea spoon of honey is perfect. You could also go for flavored yoghurt containing 15 grams of carbs.


Chicken soup

Chicken soup is a good food to eat when sick. It eases congestion and mucus. Chicken is rich in cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin mucus in the lungs, which in turn calms a cough and a stuffed nose. The hot broth keeps you hydrated and soothes sore throat. However, you do not have to settle on homemade soups - supermarket brands work as well.


Honey and lemon

Honey will not only soothe your throat, but will also stop your cough. Lemon on the other hand is rich in cold-fighting vitamin C. A study has shown that honey can reduce nighttime coughing frequency at the same rate as cough medicine.


BRAT diet

A number of foods are great for you when you’ve got the runs. Whether the diarrhea is caused by a meal that did not go down well with you or a virus, these foods will work for you - bananas, applesauce, toast and rice. You can also eat boiled potatoes, oatmeal, saltine crackers and turkey or chicken without skin.

Avoid sugarless gum and candy containing artificial sweeteners e.g. sorbitol as they are indigestible and could trigger diarrhea. Apples, broccoli, onions, beans and cabbage cause bloating while dairy, alcohol and caffeine aggravate diarrhea.


Foods for pain relief

The reason for body aches dictates the kind of foods to go for. For example, general muscle aches can be addressed using foods rich in calcium and magnesium. Magnesium rich foods include beans, nuts, leafy greens, bananas and avocados. Yoghurt, orange juice enriched with calcium, salmon and dark green leafy vegetables help reduce pain and muscle cramps as they are rich in calcium.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and anything that dehydrates you as they can make the muscle aches worse.



Dehydration is one of the major causes of headaches. It is advisable to hydrate first and see if the pain goes away before taking medication. Water and other drinks are perfect for hydration. Just take a bottle of water and rest for 20 minutes to see if the headache goes away. Caffeine is known to dehydrate, but the truth is it can help with a headache if taken in small doses. Just ensure you take a cup of water for every cup of tea or coffee taken to avoid dehydration.

Note: Aged cheeses (blue, stilton) with tyramine, artificial sweeteners, MSG (present in soy sauce and sauces), hot dogs, red wine, dried fruit, chocolate and deli meats are known to trigger headaches.


Citrus fruits

Vitamin C, which is abundant in citrus fruits may not cure a cold but it can definitely reduce the severity and length of colds. Additionally, oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits have flavonoids, which help boost the immune system and in turn help with speedy recovery.


Spicy foods

Although spicy foods make our eyes watery and noses runny, they are excellent natural decongestants. Chilli peppers, horseradish or wasabi are will work well.


Leafy green vegetables

It is difficult to get all the minerals and vitamins you need if you decide to stick to a sick foods diet. Good food to eat when sick should include lots of leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach and kale which are rich in minerals, fiber and vitamins. They are full of vitamins A, C and K. Dark green vegetables also contain plant compounds that act as antioxidants which protect cells and help with inflammation. Leafy greens also possess antibacterial properties.



One of the best protein sources for sick people has to be salmon. It is not only soft and easy to eat but also a good source of omega -3 fatty acids, which help with inflammation. Salmon is also very rich in mineral and vitamins, specifically vitamin D, which plays a vital role in boosting immunity.


More Foods to Eat When You Feel Sick

  • Popscicles- They are great for hydrating

  • Ginger – It helps with hydrating, soothing nausea and tummy problems. Just cook some ginger soup.

  • Coconut water- Perfect for re-hydration as it contains glucose and electrolytes

  • Garlic – Despite being a natural antibiotic, it also combats viruses and stimulates the immune system.

  • Broths- Like chicken soup, they keep you hydrated and decongest your system when taken hot.


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