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How to eat while sick with a cold or flu

Daily Press, Newport News, Va.


When a cold or flu strikes, doctors say there are foods and drinks that - along with plenty of rest - may help you get better faster:

Hot soup. Soup is a good source of fluid and soothing heat for your throat; its saltiness also can help lower the risk of dehydration from a fever. Choose clearer broths over creamy varieties, and be aware that some scientific evidence suggests chicken soup can help fight infection.

Vitamin C. Doctors aren't sure if the nutrient can shorten illnesses, but foods rich in vitamin C tend to be healthy anyway. Good sources include strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers, broccoli and orange and lemon juice.

Lean meats. Healthy levels of iron - found in lean red meat, chicken and fish - can help maintain a strong immune system.

Garlic. Compounds in the onion-like plant may help shorten the duration of a cold. Use fresh or dried garlic in recipes, or ask your doctor about taking a supplement.

Honey. The sticky substance can reduce coughing by coating and soothing an irritated throat. Try swallowing between 1/2 and 2 teaspoons, especially before you want to sleep. Note: Never give honey to children younger than 1; it can cause a rare but potentially fatal illness.

Hot peppers. Capsaicin, a natural compound in peppers, can help thin mucus, clear stuffy noses and flush germs from the body. Depending on your tolerance for spicy foods, stir a dash or more of fresh or dried pepper into dishes.

Water. Staying well hydrated can reduce symptoms such as headache and sore throat.

Green tea. Antioxidants in tea leaves can boost immune function. Just be aware that green tea has caffeine - so it may interfere with sleep if you drink too much.

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