What Foods Can You Eat When You Have the Flu?

Influenza, or "the flu," is a respiratory virus that can affect people's bodies and appetites in various ways. In general, when you have the flu, you can eat any foods that do not exacerbate your symptoms, such as nausea, congestion or sore throat. Certain foods, such as broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables, may be easier to handle when you have flu-like symptoms. For best results, seek specific guidance from your doctor or nutritionist.

Broth-Based Soups

Warm fluids can be soothing as well as help keep you hydrated during bouts of the flu. According to the Mayo Clinic, soup may also help reduce congestion. Ideal soups are broth-based, rather than cream-based, since they provide greater hydration, often contain less fat and are less likely to add to phlegm or other congestion. Chicken soup provides protein, which supports tissue repair, blood sugar balance and sustained energy. Zinc, a mineral found in chicken, enhances immune function. Chicken also contains tryptophan, a chemical that may enhance relaxation, which may prove helpful for people who have difficulty resting as much as they should. Vegetable soup provides vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Colorful vegetables tend to provide the most antioxidant, or disease-fighting, benefits.


Probiotics are healthy, or "good," bacteria, known to promote healthy digestion and replenish helpful bacteria in the body. Although the flu is a viral illness, and you might be familiar with the idea of taking probiotics only when you are taking antibiotics, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), probiotics may also help prevent infections and reduce the severity of viruses.

Probiotics are found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt and kefir, fermented soy products, fermented cabbage and fortified juices, or they are available in supplement form.


When heavier foods sound unappealing, fresh fruit provides a good option for people with the flu. Fruit contains an array of valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can help the body combat illness and disease. Fresh fruit also provides hydration, which is important while fighting illness. A variety of colorful fruit is optimum, in order to reap most nutritional benefits. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, provide vitamin C. Natural frozen fruit bars and standard frozen fruit can help appease sore or inflamed throat symptoms. Blended fruit, such as apple sauce and all-fruit smoothies, are good choices for people with reduced appetite.

Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables, provide numerous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They also provide glucose--the body's primary source of energy. People who have the appetite for bread, cereals or crackers may benefit from small amounts of complex carbohydrate-based foods throughout the day. You should avoid large meals, of course, if you are experiencing nausea. Oatmeal or other hot cereals might soothe throat irritation and ease congestion.

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