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What To Eat And Avoid When Down With The Flu?

Flu can be irritating and the symptoms could make you feel low and dull. If you are sick and down with the flu, you should include certain foods that would make you feel better and help you in a faster recovery.

The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention notes that fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, and body aches, are the symptoms of flu.(1) In certain cases, flu might result in vomiting and diarrhea too.

Symptoms of flu can be treated with the diet that we take. By adding certain foods and by ignoring some of them from the diet. Take a further look and know what to eat and  what to avoid when you are down with the flu.

What To Eat When Down With Flu?

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has certain healing properties that can make you feel better when you are sick. So, if you are down with the flu, you can have a bowl of chicken soup and feel better. A study has found that ingredients in chicken soup can help in reducing inflammation and can support the immune system as it fights the flu infection.(2) Chicken offers your body protein and zinc. Vitamin A comes from carrots, vitamin C from onions and celery, and antioxidants from herbs found in chicken soup.


Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, and probiotics help support the immune system. Research in mice suggested that probiotics might help in reducing the duration of the flu.(3) So, you can add yogurt to your diet if you are down with the flu. However, for the maximum nutritional benefit, be sure to choose yogurts that do not contain any added sugar.

Fruits and Vegetables Rich In Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for you when you are sick, as it helps in enhancing the function of your immune system.(4) Foods like grape, orange or orange juices, red or green pepper, kiwi, and broccoli, are rich sources of vitamin C and you should include these in your diet when you are down with the flu. Research has suggested that vitamin C can help in reducing the duration and severity of the common cold, and flu symptoms are also similar to the common cold.(5)

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and other leafy greens can help in improving the function of the immune system, especially when you have the flu. The green leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, all of which are great for enhancing the functioning of your immune system.(6) Consider adding these leafy green vegetables to eat raw or adding them to your smoothie.


Broccoli is one of the nutrient-dense vegetables that can be beneficial for your body when you are suffering from the flu. Eating just one serving of the vegetable can offer you immune-boosting vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin E, along with fiber and calcium. You can eat broccoli on its own or can add it to your soup or salads.

Sugar-free Ice Pops

Though warm fluids offer more relief from symptoms of the flu, some individuals find cold foods can help them get relief from a painful sore throat. In such a case, sugar-free ice pops could be a great option for you.


When you are sick with the flu, a hot bowl of oatmeal can not only be nutritious but also a soothing and relaxing food choice.

Copper, iron, zinc, selenium, protein, and fiber are present in oatmeal, which is all known for its immune-boosting abilities.(7)


The broth is one of the best things you should eat when you are down with the flu. Eat it as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms of the flu. Broth helps in preventing dehydration and also can help soothe your sore throat.


Garlic has been used in alternative medicines for ages. Though there are limited data, results from a study have shown that using garlic supplements has enhanced immunity and reduced symptoms of flu in adults.(8) Garlic might thus be beneficial to fight off the flu and associated symptoms.


Spices not only add taste to our food but also help in adding good health to our life. Certain spices are beneficial for you when you are down with the flu. Ginger and turmeric can be essential for you to ease the flu symptoms. You can add them to your tea or hot lemon water.

Herbal Tea

Herbal hot tea can soothe a sore throat and also help in clearing up a stuffy nose. Simply add a bit of honey to bring an extra dose of relief. This can help in reducing nighttime coughing and improving sleep.


Honey is a common natural remedy to get relief from a sore throat. A review published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine in August 2020 has suggested that honey might be more effective in treating flu and cold-like symptoms than over-the-counter medicines.(9)


Water is the most important thing when you are down with the flu. This is because it is easy to get dehydrated when you suffer from the flu. So, you should stay hydrated and promote your bodily functions. Moreover, fluids can also help in reducing congestion.

What To Avoid When Down With Flu?

You need to avoid eating certain types of foods when down with the flu. Check below to know about them.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are a strict no for you when you are down with the flu. The more processed a food is, the fewer nutrients it would contain. When your body is trying to heal, it would be essential for you to support the healing process with whole, nutrient-rich foods.

Alcoholic Beverages

One of the most important things to remember is to avoid alcoholic beverages. It reduces your immune system and leads to dehydration. Research has suggested that alcohol can weaken the immune system, and this can make it more difficult for you to fight off the flu infection. Moreover, it can also further dehydrate you.(10)

Spicy Foods

You should avoid eating spicy foods when you are down with the flu. It can trigger a runny nose and this might be more problematic for you when you have the flu.

Dairy Products

Dairy products should be avoided when you have flu. This is because they can thicken mucus, which will compound your congestion.


Sugar causes more inflammation, which could be harder for your body to fight off when you are down with the flu.

Caffeinated Beverages

Coffee, black tea, and soda can make you more dehydrated when you are sick. Moreover, these beverages might contain sugar.


If you have been suffering from the flu, make sure to visit your doctor and take the appropriate medications. However, simultaneously concentrate on your diet and add more immunity-boosting foods to recover sooner. This is because the right diet can not just help you with a quick recovery but also might prevent further illness.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 21, 2022

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