Do you dread getting the flu each winter? How many days off work or school have you or your kids had to take because of the flu? Are you tired of getting sick so easily? Here are 9 ways to eat right to blow the flu away...
Although influenza is usually a self-limiting, acute infection, it can be dangerous in certain populations. It can have serious complications in those with lowered immunity eg individuals above 65 years of age, people with chronic health conditions (diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer), pregnant women and young children.
Considering the effectiveness of the 2017 seasonal influenza vaccine was low for influenza A(H3N2) 1, the most common strain of the virus, additional forms of protection are urgently needed.
Interestingly, vitamins A, D and E have been investigated as adjuvant components of the influenza vaccine with the aim of improving the immune response and reducing the amount of antigen required for protection2. The results are not yet conclusive and clinical trials are required to confirm this.
Eating the right foods can help to strengthen the immune system by providing important nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. If you have the flu already, you can reduce the severity of your symptoms and speed up your recovery time with proper nutrition. In addition, scientific studies are providing evidence for the benefit of taking nutritional supplements to boost the body’s defense mechanisms and prevent further complications such as pneumoniae, autoimmune diseases and septicaemia.
Here are some Dietary and Lifestyle Tips to help manage some of the symptoms associated with the flu.
9 Ways to Eat Right to Blow the Flu Away:
1. Drink plenty of fluids
- Fresh lemon juice with freshly grated ginger and crushed garlic with a small amount of raw honey
- Herbal teas combining yarrow, peppermint and elder to help promote sweating and elimination of the virus and support immunity. The addition of licorice will provide an anti-viral action.
- Chicken soup/Beef broth with sea vegetables (eg wakame, dulse flakes), medicinal mushrooms (eg shiitake), chillis, turmeric, natural sea salt and onion with fresh parsley/coriander added at the end
- Diluted fresh fruit & vegetable juices (eg carrot, beetroot, ginger, green apple, pomegranate, kiwifruit, lemon, lime) to provide easily assimilated nutrients
2. Warming spices such as ginger, chilli, thyme and sage should be used in cooking
3. Avoid dairy foods and sugary foods/drinks as these promote mucous production
4. Avoid refined sugar, as it weakens the immune system and causes mucus production
5. Practise appropriate hygiene to prevent reinfection and infection of people around you. NSW Health advises that the use of antipyretic medication, such as aspirin and Nurofen may not be necessary to treat a fever. “There may be advantages to the child in not treating the fever.”3 “Tepid sponging and other physical methods of reducing temperature are not recommended and may be counterproductive. Unwrapping an overdressed child is appropriate.” 3
- Get as much fresh air as possible, even if you have to rug up, because fresh air contains negatively charged oxygen molecules that reduce the survival of bacteria and viruses.
- Go out for a gentle walk in the sunlight or have your brekky or herbal tea outside on a sunny day. Vitamin D helps to support the immune system.
- Do the good old-fashioned essential oil inhalations (eucalyptus, lemon myrtle, thyme)
- Ensure adequate rest, sleep and reduce your exposure to both physical and emotional stress as much as you’re able to.
- Australian Influenza Surveillance Report - 2017 Season Summary https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm
- Quintilio W et al. (2016). Vitamins as influenza vaccine adjuvant components. Archives Of Virology 161 (10), 2787-95
- NSW Government. Basic Clinical Practice Guidelines for the acute treatment of infants and children with fever.