Colds and flu viruses come in all shapes and sizes, from a mild sniff and blocked nose to the dreaded ‘man flu’ and an entire week off work to recover. However, your diet can play a big part on how susceptible you are to illness.
So what can we eat to stave off the flu or recover quickly?
Not Quite ‘Easy as A, B, Vitamin C’
Vitamin C has always been a staple recommendation of any immune system boosting diet.
It’s certainly true that vitamin C has a role in improving the respiratory system, which in turn helps your body to shift infected mucus from the lungs.
However the massive doses you will often find recommended are far bigger than the body needs and evidence for this is limited.
Instead of reliance on supplements and tablets, it is much better to eat vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. The standard recommendation of 5 a day will provide your body with more than enough vitamin C as well as a whole combination of other minerals to keep your body working 100%.
Zincing About You
Studies have shown that Zinc plays a significant role in the body’s ability to heal itself. From boosting the immune system to helping healing cuts and grazes, zinc is integral.
One particular study found that a zinc supplement could reduce the duration of a cold by as much as 50%.
It is also thought to stop the immune system spiralling out of control. Through keeping your immune system in check when an infection strikes, it stops excessive inflammation and the discomfort often felt when your body is fighting the virus.
Zinc-rich foods include lean meats, shellfish, dairy products, whole grains and nuts.
Water bout me?
Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways of lessening the symptoms of cold and flu viruses.
Mucus in the lungs traps harmful bacteria and viruses and prevents them reaching the lungs. Whilst the mucus may be irritating and uncomfortable, it’s actually protecting you against a lung infection.
Drinking lots of water helps to keep the mucus thinner, allowing it to move bacteria away from the lungs quickly and for you to get rid of it much more easily.
A study in the US found that soup is a particularly effective way of treating a cold and the flu. Soups generally contain a number of healthy ingredients, such as chicken or vegetables and also the liquid helps to keep you hydrated.
However, the study particularly found that the soup contained anti-inflammatory symptoms, which helped to ease chest infections.
The mechanism behind the positive impact was unclear but soup appears to come with the scientific stamp of approval.
The Road to Recovery
Once the infection has started to pass, there are a number of foods that are recommended to return your immune system to its best form:
· Colourful vegetables, as these will have a wide range of vitamins and minerals that you may have depleted during your illness
· Whole grain bread products
· Lean meat and seafood
· Yoghurt and other dairy products
· Nuts and seeds
Ultimately, cold and flu viruses return with a vengeance every year. Unfortunately, as of yet, there is no miracle cure to fix it all immediately.
However there is still plenty you can do to keep yourself in the best position to fight a virus. Take a proactive approach, and a varied, healthy diet will hopefully keep you fighting fit.
What can I do about it?
If you are feeling unwell and symptoms persist, then be sure to see a doctor for treatment. With Qured you can see a doctor at a time and location of your choice, to help you fight the flu before it gets worse. Download the app here and be seen by a GP at home in as little as 2 hours.
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