Eating a variety of foods to achieve a balanced diet most days can make all the difference in preventing us from getting sick. But when we do catch a germ, balanced nutrition can help us recover quickly. And, unfortunately, some food options might worsen symptoms. Here’s the rundown on nutrition when you’re run down:
- Our bodies need a balance of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals along with plenty of fluids for repair and to fight infection.
- Consuming a variety of nutritious foods that decrease inflammation and increase antioxidant activity can help support the immune response.
- Avoiding options that lead to dehydration can help encourage recovery.
Foods to Have on Hand for Sick Days
Canned or frozen homemade soup, broths: offer a balance of the nutrients and liquids our bodies need to fight infection
Gelatin mixes, popsicles and fruit juice: can help prevent dehydration
Crackers or bread/toast: are gentle carb options for energy to help get your body back to where it needs to be
Bananas and avocados: are packed with vital nutrients for recovery andcan help reverse diarrhea symptoms
Foods to Avoid When Sick
When your body is fighting infection, things aren’t the same as usual. Spicy foods that don’t usually bother your belly might cause irritation when you’re sick. Here are a few food categories to avoid when under the weather:
Fried or greasy foods: can be tough to digest
Spicy foods: can irritate the stomach
Sugary foods or drinks: can slow recovery because they are nutrient-deficient
Caffeine: can contribute to dehydration and prevent restful sleep
Eating a balance of the right foods when we’re sick can give us energy back, help us feel better and help us hydrate to recover quicker.
“The Best Foods to Eat When You’re Sick,” clevelandclinic.org, Feb. 9, 2021.
“Eight Best Foods to Eat When Sick, According to Experts,” Rachael Ajmera, forbes.com, Sept. 22, 2023.