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Down With the Sniffles? Try These 6 Flu Fighting Foods

From apples to mushrooms, nutritionist Kavita Devgan brings you 6 ways you can fight the flu.

5 min read
Down With the Sniffles? Try These 6 Flu Fighting Foods
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The right food can really help shorten the duration of your discomfort and get you back on your feet sooner than you think!

We have all fallen prey to it and consumed a cocktail of pills to thwart those tiresome, flu-ridden days. But the truth is that the best way to fight flu is through food.

So where can you begin battling the flu? Well, the firefighting begins in the kitchen.

1. The Vegetable Solution

Get hold of lots of leafy vegetables – spinach, chaulai (amaranth), Sarson ka saag (mustard greens), bathua (pigweed), chard, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, pok choy, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. These green veggies deliver phytochemicals in loads.

The right food can really help shorten the duration of your discomfort and get you back on your feet sooner.


Make vegetables your best friend this flu season! 

(Photo: iStock)

Nothing unclogs a stuffed nose better than capsicums cooked with mustard- it helps break up the mucus in the nasal passage, making breathing easier.

Continue to eat tomatoes (for their carotenoid, giving them their red colour) that are loaded with antioxidants and potatoes (a storehouse of minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus), but I am not talking about French fries! Try simply cooked recipes.

Flavour the veggies with onion and garlic (which have the compound allicin, a key booster for fighting viral infections), garnish them with parsley (another green friend) and indulge.

Two apples a day, keep the flu away!

2. Say Yes to Fruits

Make that two apples a day. They contain vitamin C and flavonoids.

Vitamin C is known to strengthen the immune system, especially against flu and colds. Flavonoids are plant compounds that help protect against bacterial and fungal infections.

More importantly, they also have powerful antioxidant properties, which prevents damage to the cells. Apples are also a good source of magnesium and potassium.

Go for fruits high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins. Kiwi and strawberries are two more delicious options.

Bananas will soothe that upset stomach, another very common symptom during a flu attack.

During a bout of the flu, the immune system is left weakened and the body needs to replenish its store of these minerals to be able to control the infection effectively.

Staying Hydrated is the key to recovering faster. 

(Photo: iStock)

Have fresh pineapples – the antioxidants they deliver have restorative properties.

Simple tip: Just aim to have an extra (or two) helping of fruit every day when feeling under the weather.

3. Drink Water- And Then Some More

Water, water everywhere – and lots of it in your system too, should be the mantra!

Why is it important to drink loads of water when you're sick?

  • It washes the toxins right out of your body.

  • Water helps bring down the body temperature during a fever.

  • Gargling with a glass of warm water with salt in it is the biggest favour that you can do to your throat!

  • Medicines for symptomatic relief may make you lose water. Drinking more protects you from getting dehydrated.

Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily to keep your body fully hydrated.

4. The Soups That Help

It is importsnt to switch to a healthy diet when you're unwell. 

(Photo: iStock)

Vegetable broth: Chop vegetables – carrots, beetroot, celery, potatoes, onions and garlic – finely. Place them in water and bring to boil with the lid on. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add salt and pepper; strain and drink the broth. This broth keeps well in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Mushrooms are rather underrated, but they too are loaded with flu fighting antioxidants. So mushrooms soup anyone!

Mushrooms are also one of the rare food sources of vitamin D, a vitamin essential for good immunity.


Plus, they increase the production of cytokines in the body, the cells that help fight off infection.

Chicken soup delivers much needed protein along with inflammation-fighting amino acid cysteine.

5. Cut Down on Smoking and Drinking

Go easy on these two – you owe your body this much!

Smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyses the fine hair-like structures on the cells that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs.

These are very important for the respiratory system as they constitute the first line of defence to trap the virus and keep it from assaulting your body deeper.

A flu is a common ailment that occurs all over the world, with an annual global attack rate estimated at 5 – 10% in adults and 20 – 30% in children.

(Photo: iStock)

Heavy drinking can destroy the liver, your body’s primary filtering system, which means that germs of all kinds will not leave your body as fast.

This is also why heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body – it actually takes more fluids out of your system than it puts in.

6. Go The Traditional Route

Take a leaf out of your grandma’s journals:

Your grandmother's trusted turmeric milk can actually work wonders for your body!

(Photo: iStock)

  • Herbal tea: Take 1 cup water. Add tulsi leaves to it. Boil till the water turns golden. Now add tea leaves and let the water simmer. Skip milk. Go easy on the sugar. Take it off the heat and add crushed pepper. Sip it slowly. If you don’t like pepper, you can add a few cloves to the tea along with the tulsi leaves.

  • Honey and pepper: Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with a double pinch of pepper powder. Lick up to soothe an irritated throat.

  • Turmeric milk: Have a glass of hot milk with turmeric powder every morning or at bedtime.

  • Turmeric is a strong cold and flu-fighter. It has both antiviral and antioxidant properties to help your body ward off any viral infections. Add some pepper to it to boost curcumin absorption.

Keep in mind these few tips and help your body fight the flu faster!

(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Flu   Healthy Diet 

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