During flu season it's more important than ever to keep your diet topped up with nutritious ingredients that will do you good. However, sometimes there's no avoiding the occasional cold.
Discover our favourite foods and drinks to add to your diet when you're under the weather to get you back on to full health in a flash. There's no magic cure-all diet, but foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals will help to give your immune system a boost.
Our range of tasty gummies for immunity is a super simple way to give your diet a boost in essential nutrients.
10 of the best foods to eat when you’re sick
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a vital role in the repair of your body’s tissues, supporting the immune system, absorbing nutrients and wound healing. It can also help to reduce fatigue when you’re feeling particularly run down. To get a dose of vitamin C, add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet such as citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Vitamin C can’t be stored in the body, so you need to top up your levels every day through vitamin-rich foods.
Treat yourself to an orange-flavoured vitamin C gummy
supplement and give your body all the nutrients it needs to support your immune system.
2. Hot tea
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re ill or feel the flu is setting in. If you’re vomiting, suffering from a fever, or have a reduced appetite, you might be at risk of dehydration, which can lead to headaches, dizziness and increased tiredness. Warm liquids can also help to soothe a cough and hot tea acts as a decongestant. Try adding a spoonful of honey to your tea for a touch of sweetness and a soothing effect to relieve the pain of a sore throat. Herbal teas such as ginger and lemon or chamomile, which is known to be an anti-inflammatory, are all great options.
Cinnamon and nutmeg have been known to soothe indigestion, help control blood sugar levels and reduce the effects of inflammation in the body. These key spices as well as turmeric, are also loaded with antioxidants, compounds that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. To activate the key ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, it is best taken in combination with black pepper.
Try our turmeric gummies
for a delicious, lightly spiced fruit flavoured supplement.
Easily digestible and rich in potassium, bananas might be one of the few fruits we're able to stomach when ill. They're a great way to give yourself an energy boost with essential electrolytes and fast-acting carbs if you're feeling fatigued. Full of fibre and vitamin B6, bananas can also play a role in giving your immune system an extra dose of vital vitamins.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are stuffed to the brim with essential vitamins and healthy fats. Polyunsaturated fats are necessary for the body to function properly, as your body can't produce them on its own. Essential fats can also help the skin and mucus membranes stay healthy, which can help to ward off future infections. Walnuts and flaxseed are particularly good sources of these fabulous fats. Nuts and seeds also contain high levels of vitamin E and zinc, both of which play a part in topping up your immune defences.
6. Root ginger
During cold season, keeping a stock of fresh root ginger on hand is always a good idea. Ginger is a well-known cure for nausea and an upset stomach and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the body's response to infection but can cause irritation. Try brewing up a simple lemon and ginger tea for an instant pick-me-up. Ginger candies or chews can also be a slightly less fiery way to get the benefits of ginger root.
One of the main compounds contained in garlic is called allicin, which gives it its distinct taste and smell. This compound is thought to support your immune health by helping to fight of viruses. While garlic has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, it also contains essential vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B6, which helps the body to form haemoglobin which carries oxygen around the body.
8. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers offer up a multitude of health benefits besides being a tasty addition to your stir fry. They're a good source of vitamin C, which has important healing properties, and contains vitamin A which helps your body's natural defence against illness and infection function properly.
9. Kale and leafy greens
Leafy green veg such as spinach, kale and cabbage are packed with essential ingredients to help you feel better faster. They're powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, contain high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and other immune-boosting ingredients.
10. Soups and broths
Not only is it deliciously comforting and soothing for a sore throat, but soup is also typically easier to stomach and a good source of fluids. Fill your soup with vegetables that have high levels of vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc to give your immune system a helping hand. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and other veg like carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers are good sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts into retinol or vitamin A.
The classic chicken soup might be a bit of a cliché, but when made with plenty of veggies like onions, carrots and garlic, it can be a great source of phytonutrients, which are key for a functioning immune system. They can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which may ease the symptoms of a cold and cough. The protein and healthy calories will give you an essential energy boost if you’re fighting off infection.
Foods to avoid
Eating particularly rich, fatty goods when you're sick might be doing more harm than good. Because greasy foods contain a high proportion of fat, they are digested slower, which can cause bloating, stomach pain and nausea. Greasy foods can also harm the healthy bacteria in your gut, which communicate your immune cells to help speed up your body's response to infection.
Eating sugar can temporarily suppress your white blood cells' ability to fight off bacteria, weakening your immune system and lengthening the time it takes you to recover from an illness. Refined sugar can also cause inflammation, which your body is trying to fight off when you're ill.
Alcohol can impact your essential immune responses and make you more vulnerable to infection and illness. Alcohol can also trigger inflammation in the gut and destroy microorganisms in the gut that help to maintain a functioning immune system. Drinking alcohol can also impact a person's sleep quality, which is essential for recovery.
Read our guide on how to sleep better at night for more top tips on getting your Zzs.
In some people, dairy can increase your body's mucus production, which is the last thing you want when you're congested. When you have a cold or the flu, your body produces more mucus than usual as a way to fight infection. It does have a purpose but can sometimes feel uncomfortable if it impedes your breathing. Some people also become lactose sensitive when they're sick, so safer to avoid dairy products.