Everyone knows that you feed a fever and starve a cold… or is it the other way around? Actually, it’s neither. When you’re sick, your body is using up much more energy trying to fight off the infection, and therefore requires more nourishment to fuel it. Some foods are great for both fueling your body and helping you fight the infection, while others should be avoided.

What To Eat

Broth-Based Soups – Those old wives were right: chicken soup can help you fight off a cold or fever. First, the broths provide nourishment without being too tough on sensitive stomachs. They also help keep nasal passages moist, prevent dehydration, and can soothe sore throats. Finally, chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin mucus in the lungs.

Hot Tea – Just like soups, herbal teas help keep you hydrated, and can soothe sore throats. They also alleviate congestion, and some teas (like green tea) contain anti-oxidants that fight infection and boost your immune system.

Citrus Fruits – While there is no proof that Vitamin C helps fight colds, the white skin on oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits contain flavonoids, which boost the immune system and help speed recovery.

Spicy Foods – You should avoid these if you’re battling nausea. But if you’re just fighting a common cold or fever, the spices are effective natural decongestants. Clear out your sinuses with the aid of wasabi, chili peppers, and horseradish.

Saltine Crackers – These are great if you are fighting nausea. They don’t upset the stomach, and can help stabilize digestion.

Ginger – Another great food for the nauseated, ginger can help fight nausea, constipation, and bloating. Flat ginger ale can also help soothe an upset tummy and keep you hydrated.

What to Avoid

Sugary Foods – Chocolate cake might make you feel better emotionally, but it won’t help your immune system. Foods high in sugar actually suppress the immune system and can cause inflammation.

Fatty Foods – Foods high in fat are more difficult to digest than carbs and protein, and may result in stomach pain. Not what you want when you’re already feeling poorly!

Alcohol – While a hot toddy can ease congestion and help you sleep, too much alcohol can be counterproductive. You don’t want to dehydrate yourself even further, so lay off the booze.

If you do get sick this winter, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. In the meantime, practice good hygiene, and be sure to get your flu shot!

Image Credit: Hoyabird8