— -- intro: When you're under the weather the last thing you want is to eat something that makes you feel worse. But what if the last thing you want is chicken soup or crackers, and you're craving ice cream or a glass of wine? It depends on what's wrong with you, experts say. Here are common symptoms and expert suggestions on foods that help—and hinder—relief.
quicklist: 1category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You've got the runsurl:text:For diarrhea caused by a stomach virus or a meal that didn't agree with you, try the BRAT diet, says James Lee, MD, gastroenterologist with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. "Many different things can cause diarrhea, such as Crohn's disease or colitis," so see your doctor if symptoms continue for longer than two weeks or sooner if signs of dehydration appear, or if diarrhea is accompanied by fever, blood, severe pain, or severe nausea and vomiting.
Best foods: The BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Also oatmeal, boiled potatoes, saltine crackers, and baked chicken or turkey without skin are safe bets.
Worst foods: Sugarless candy and gum containing sorbitol or other artificial sweeteners, which aren't digestible and can trigger diarrhea. Other foods that can cause gas and bloating include onions, apples, broccoli, cabbages, and beans. Dairy may also aggravate diarrhea, as well as alcohol and caffeine.
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quicklist: 2category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You're constipatedurl:text:Constipation can occur when not eating enough fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and veggies, which stimulate digestion. "Adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day," says Dr. Lee.
Best foods: High-fiber whole grain breads, nuts, beans, prunes, oatmeal, flaxseed, broccoli, pears, and apples. (Here are the 20 best foods for fiber.) Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day also helps get things moving, says Dr. Lee.
Worst foods: Chocolate, dairy products, iron supplements, narcotics (pain medications) and some blood and anti depression medications may worsen constipation.
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quicklist: 3category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You're feeling nauseousurl:text:Feeling queasy makes all foods sound unappealing, but the right ones can ease symptoms by calming stomach acids, says Dr. Lee. "In general, keep food portions small and odors to a minimum."
Best foods: Saltine crackers or pretzels can help, says Dr. Lee, as does small quantities of dry toast or cereal. Ginger or lemon tea, fresh or frozen lemon slices, and peppermint also work.
Worst foods: Greasy, spicy, or oily foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks can make nausea worse.
quicklist: 4category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: It hurts to swallowurl:text:When you have a sore throat, several foods can coat your throat and soothe the pain, says Lauren Slayton, RD, founder ofFoodtrainers.com and author of The Little Book of Thin (Perigee 2014).
Best foods: Combine peppermint tea (lukewarm, not hot)—which has analgesic and anesthetic effects—and Manuka honey, which is known for its wound-healing properties. Soft, creamy foods such as cream soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt, scrambled eggs, and custards are also soothing.
Worst foods: Avoid hot liquids and hard, scratchy foods such as potato chips, nuts, and granola. The acidic juices from raw fruits and vegetables, as well as orange juice, grape juice, and lemonade can also irritate a sore throat.
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quicklist: 5category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: Your entire body achesurl:text:Foods that ease muscle aches depend on the specific reason for the body aches, says Kristine Arthur, MD, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. "For general muscle aches, food containing magnesium or calcium may help ease soreness," she says.
Best foods: Magnesium-containing foods include nuts, bananas, beans, leafy greens, and avocados. Foods high in calcium such as canned salmon, yogurt, dark-green leafy greens, and orange juice fortified with calcium also lessen muscle cramping and pain.
Worst foods: Anything that dehydrates you can worsen muscle aches, says Dr. Arthur, particularly alcohol and caffeine.
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quicklist: 6category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: Your head hurtsurl:text:Dehydration is one of the leading causes of headaches, says Dr. Arthur, so it's best to treat that cause first and see if it relieves your pain.
Best foods: Water and other fluids are your best bet. "Drink a bottle of water and wait 20 minutes to see if you feel better," says Dr. Arthur. Caffeine is known for drying you out, but ironically, it can help in small doses. "But for each cup of tea or coffee, drink an equal amount of water to avoid dehydration," Dr. Arthur says.
Worst foods: Headache-triggering foods include artificial sweeteners, MSG (found in sauces and soy sauce), aged cheeses (blue, stilton) that contain tyramine, plus chocolate, red wine, hot dogs, deli meats, and dried fruit. MSG is metabolized to glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, says Dr. Arthur. Tyramine links to increased blood pressure, which can trigger headaches.
quicklist: 7category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You have an earacheurl:text:Earaches typically accompany other symptoms, says Dr. Arthur. "So they're not correlated with any food in general." Since they occur most often with upper respiratory infections, however, foods that clear up congestion can help earaches as well.
Best foods: Clear fluids and chicken soup ease congestion by loosening up mucous in nasal passages. Omega-3s found in salmon and nuts decrease inflammation, and vitamin C found in dark leafy greens, berries, and citrus boost the immune system, says Dr. Arthur.
Worst foods: Dairy can thicken phlegm and worsen congestion, with the exception of yogurt, which contains probiotics, says Dr. Arthur. "Stay away from processed and packaged foods, too, which increase inflammation and lengthen the recovery process."
quicklist: 8category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You're red and itchyurl:text:A rash could be a symptom of an allergy, says Dr. Arthur. "Keep a detailed food journal to look for links to foods that seem to trigger a rash."
Best foods: Omega-3 containing foods such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines) and walnut and flax seed oils, as well as foods high in protein are all important for skin health, says Dr. Arthur. "Skin is made up of proteins, so a diet adequate in protein is necessary for skin protein synthesis."
Worst foods: The most common foods that cause itching are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, berries, soy, wheat, and milk, says Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist ($9, amazon.com).
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quicklist: 9category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You have a runny noseurl:text:When you have a cold, the worst symptom might be a nose that just won't stop running. Aside from taking a steamy shower, Slayton suggests drinking warm tea—it may not slow down the drip, but a soothing tea will make you feel better.
Best foods: Try Wakaya ginger tea, suggests Slayton. Ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help clear up a cold faster than just waiting it out. "Apple cider and lemon in water works well, too," she says.
Worst foods: Spicy foods can cause an immediate runny nose (which then turns into congestion), as may alcohol.
quicklist: 9category: Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sicktitle: You're stuffed upurl:text:A cold, flu or sinus infection can irritate and inflame blood vessels in your nose, making it hard to breathe. Aside from inhaling steam from a hot shower or using a humidifier, if you're stopped up due to mucous, some foods can help.
Best foods: Slayton recommends "golden milk," which includes turmeric, a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Place 2 cups of coconut or almond milk in a saucepan with 1 tsp dried turmeric, 1 tsp dried ginger, a dash of black pepper and honey to taste. Bring to a simmer, allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve warm.
Worst foods: Skip dairy, spicy foods, and sugar, all of which can aggravate symptoms, says Slayton.
Best and Worst Foods To Eat When You're Sick? ›
Best foods: The BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Also oatmeal, boiled potatoes, saltine crackers, and baked chicken or turkey without skin are safe bets. Worst foods: Sugarless candy and gum containing sorbitol or other artificial sweeteners, which aren't digestible and can trigger diarrhea.What is the best food out when sick? ›
Try pretzels, dry cereal, toast or plain crackers like saltines. Cold foods & foods with little odor. Because smells can trigger nausea (especially in pregnancy), cold foods might be a good choice. Try Jell-O, ice cream, frozen fruit, yogurt or popsicles.What foods make sickness worse? ›
Worst foods: Avoid hard, scratchy foods such as potato chips, nuts, and granola. The acidic juices from many fruits and vegetables, as well as orange juice, grape juice, and lemonade, can also irritate a sore throat.What foods help fight a virus? ›
Foods to help you reduce inflammation include:
- Apples, berries, tomatoes, celery and onions (veggies and fruits)
- Yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha (probiotics)
- Salmon, walnuts and chia seeds (omega-3 fatty acids)
And here's a more important solution: It's always important to eat well — especially when you're sick. Not eating when you're sick can inhibit your body's ability to heal itself. While you might crave junk foods while you're sick, they won't help your body heal either.What foods make cold worse? ›
The culprits include:
- Fried foods.
- Dairy products.
- White bread.
Gatorade, because of its electrolyte content, helps to restore the lost electrolytes and keep a person hydrated, during intense activity. It can also replace electrolytes, during times of illness, such as stomach viruses.Should I not eat when I'm sick? ›
Answer: Oftentimes when we get a cold or the flu, we lose our appetites, and that's very, very common. It's not important to force feed yourself in order to keep up with the cold. However, it is important to stay hydrated.What foods make you sicker? ›
They can carry harmful germs that can make you very sick if the food is contaminated. Raw foods of animal origin are the most likely to be contaminated, specifically raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or lightly cooked eggs, unpasteurized (raw) milk, and raw shellfish.Is it better to eat or fast when sick? ›
“'Feed a cold, starve a fever' has been debunked,” says Rebecca Schilling, RDN, a dietitian with Dietitians Delivered. “The most current science suggests that during acute illness, such as cold or fever, nutrient needs increase. Eating and drinking is recommended over fasting.”
What kills viruses naturally? ›
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D, commonly known for its role in bone health, also helps make proteins that kill viruses and bacteria, especially in the respiratory tract. ...
- Vitamin C: ...
- Zinc: ...
- Polyphenols: ...
- Potassium: ...
- Probiotics: ...
- Supplement Wisely.
Salmon. Salmon is one of the best protein sources to eat when you're sick. It's soft, easy to eat, and full of the high quality protein your body needs for recovery ( 52 ).What not to eat with COVID? ›
Avoid foods (e.g. snacks) that are high in salt and sugar. Limit your intake of soft drinks or sodas and other drinks that are high in sugar (e.g. fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates and syrups, flavoured milks and yogurt drinks). Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes and chocolate.Is peanut butter good when sick? ›
Nuts. A lack of protein can make nausea feel even worse, so look to protein-packed foods, such as nuts — even peanut butter, as long as you're not allergic — that are easy to digest. They'll quickly replenish your depleted energy and help keep your nausea at bay.What should you not do when sick? ›
- Pretending you're not sick. This never works. ...
- Not sleeping enough. Getting enough sleep is key for a healthy immune system. ...
- Getting stressed. ...
- Drinking too little. ...
- Drinking alcohol. ...
- Overusing decongestant sprays. ...
Kale, broccoli, cranberries, green tea, red onions, blueberries: What do these have in common? All have an antioxidant called quercetin that may help you fight the common cold.Is orange juice good when sick? ›
The acid can irritate a sore or inflamed throat. Many store-bought orange juices are also high in sugar, which is not recommended for treating cold symptoms. Stick with water and clear liquids, such as broth, instead.How do you hydrate fast when sick? ›
Try clear fluids such as water, broth or sports drinks. Use a squeeze bottle or a straw if you're too weak to drink from a cup. Try sucking on ice chips or ice pops.Is Orange Juice Good for a cold? ›
It's a myth!
Because oranges are rich in vitamin C, we believe – falsely – that eating them can help cure a cold. Let us be clear: after the onset of cold symptoms, eating oranges or drinking orange juice is not an effective treatment.
When you are seriously ill, your body may not be able to use food to build itself up. Because the body recognises that it can no longer use as much food as before, your appetite becomes smaller. You may find that the amount you eat or drink changes from day to day.
How long does a cold last? ›
In adults and older children, they usually last about 7 to 10 days, but can last longer. A cough in particular can last for two or three weeks. Colds tend to last longer in younger children who are under five, typically lasting around 10 to 14 days.Which fruits to avoid during cold? ›
This makes the runny or stuffy nose. Hence, a person who is already suffering from cough and cold should avoid foods that are rich in histamines. Some foods to avoid are avocados, mushrooms, strawberries, dry fruits, alcohol, yogurt, vinegar and fermented foods.What breakfast to eat when sick? ›
“Oatmeal is easy, and usually gentle on the stomach,” she says. She also suggests trying toast with egg whites, drinking bone broth, or having a smoothie, if you think you can tolerate it. “Keep it simple and don't force it if you feel like you cannot even look at food,” Cording says.What can make you sick for 3 days? ›
Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after you come into contact with the virus and last 1 to 3 days. rotavirus. Symptoms usually begin about 2 days after you come into contact with the virus and last for 3 to 8 days.Can you sweat out a cold? ›
There's no way to cure a cold—or sweat it out. Breathing in warm, moist air can help alleviate cold symptoms, like congestion. Light exercise can increase blood flow, which also might help with congestion. However, there's no quick fix.Is bread good for you when sick? ›
White bread is soft, low in fiber, and not spicy. It doesn't typically cause stomach upset, even when people are sick. Plus, it contains carbohydrates — a good source of energy.
Eating pizza while sick isn't a good idea in most cases. It might be all right as comfort food if you're just feeling a little under the weather, but the ingredients all impact your body in detrimental ways. Most notably, they cause inflammation, which can overtax your immune system and slow down your recovery rate.Is fast food good when you're sick? ›
Steer clear of fast food when you're sick or fighting off a cold. Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners cause inflammation within the body, so do your best to avoid highly processed foods with added sugar in them.What should I eat during a common cold? ›
- Chicken Noodle Soup: Grandma was right — nothing beats chicken soup for fending off sniffles. ...
- Onions. ...
- Shiitake Mushrooms. ...
- Ginger. ...
- Natural Yoghurt. ...
- Cinnamon. ...
- Green Tea. ...
- Stay hydrated. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. ...
- Rest. Your body needs rest to heal.
- Soothe a sore throat. ...
- Combat stuffiness. ...
- Relieve pain. ...
- Sip warm liquids. ...
- Try honey. ...
- Add moisture to the air.
What should I eat when I have a cold and flu? ›
- Ice Pops. 1/10. They can soothe your throat when it's sore, swollen, or dry. ...
- Turkey Sandwich. 2/10. It has lean protein, a key part of a healthy diet. ...
- Vegetable Juice. 3/10. ...
- Chicken Soup. 4/10. ...
- Garlic. 5/10. ...
- Ginger. 6/10. ...
- Hot Tea. 7/10. ...
- Banana. 8/10.
When sick, you might be tempted to reach for your favorite candy or junk food for comfort, even if you know they are unhealthy. But if you find yourself doing this, stop. These foods are typically loaded with immune-suppressing fats or sugars, which could actually prolong your illness instead of helping you get better.What foods heal a cold? ›
Kale, broccoli, cranberries, green tea, red onions, blueberries: What do these have in common? All have an antioxidant called quercetin that may help you fight the common cold.What are the 5 stages of cold? ›
Symptoms of a cold appear and usually peak within one to three days and may include:
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
- Stuffy nose.
- Body aches.
- Post-nasal drip.
As Abramson explained, when we are sick, whether we have a fever or not, our metabolic rates skyrocket, and our bodies need more calories to support that high metabolic rate.Can a cold go away in 2 days? ›
Most colds go away in a few days. Some things you can do to take care of yourself with a cold include: Get plenty of rest and drink fluids. Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines may help ease symptoms in adults and older children.How long do colds last? ›
The common cold is an infection of your nose, sinuses, throat and windpipe. Colds spread easily, especially within homes, classrooms and workplaces. More than 200 different viruses can cause colds. There's no cure for a common cold, but it usually goes away within a week to 10 days.Why do colds get worse at night? ›
Research shows that the immune system follows a circadian rhythm and that the cells involved in healing and inflammation tend to rev up in the evening. Some evidence suggests that more white blood cells (WBCs) are sent to your tissues to fight off infection during the night compared to the day.Is Gatorade good for the flu? ›
"Sports beverages may be fine for healthy persons following intensive exercise, but they are not recommended for those with fever, diarrhea or vomiting.What is the best breakfast to eat when sick? ›
“Oatmeal is easy, and usually gentle on the stomach,” she says. She also suggests trying toast with egg whites, drinking bone broth, or having a smoothie, if you think you can tolerate it. “Keep it simple and don't force it if you feel like you cannot even look at food,” Cording says.
What should you avoid when you have a cold? ›
Avoid salty foods, alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks, which can be dehydrating. Ice chips are another simple way to stay hydrated and calm a scratchy throat. Gargle with salt water. A saltwater gargle with about 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water can help reduce the pain and swelling of a sore throat.