Best Foods To Eat When You're Sick

1. Baked Chicken or Turkey Without Skin


You may not have an appetite if you have diarrhea or an upset stomach.3 Instead of fasting, try eating bland foods like lean meats. Your body easily digests bland foods, so they do not irritate your stomach. For example, try eating small meals of baked chicken or turkey without skin.1
2. Beans


High-fiber foods help alleviate constipation by softening your stool when you drink adequate fluid. Beans, including black and kidney beans and soybeans, are a source of fiber.4

Dried beans are also a source of magnesium, which helps ease body and muscle aches.5 Some evidence suggests that magnesium reduces inflammation, which often causes aches and pains when an infection occurs.6
3. Cereal and Oatmeal


Choose whole-grain oatmeal and bran flake cereals if you have constipation. Those cereals have fiber that helps regulate your bowel movements.4 Just remember to drink plenty of fluids with high-fiber meals like oatmeal. Fluids help alleviate constipation by making your stool easy to pass. For example, prune juice is a high-fiber beverage that helps soften your stool.7
4. Coffee, Tea, and Water


Some evidence suggests that small doses of caffeine may alleviate some migraines but trigger them in others. A review published in 2020 found that there's not enough evidence to say whether caffeine cures migraines. The researchers advised not drinking more than 200 milligrams (mg), or two cups of coffee, per day.8

For other ailments, opt for tea instead of coffee. Drinking warm green tea may not slow the drip if you have a runny nose, but a soothing tea might help you feel better.9 Ginger tea may soothe your stomach. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that may ease nausea.10

Although it's not food, remember to drink plenty of water if you lose a lot of fluids from diarrhea or vomiting to avoid dehydration.11 Drinking water also prevents your throat from drying out, which may worsen soreness.12 Experts advise drinking eight to 10 cups of liquids, primarily water, daily.2 Your fluid needs may depend on your activity level, environment, health conditions, and weight.
5. Eggs


Cooked eggs are part of the bland diet, so you might tolerate them if you have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Remember to eat more frequently, in smaller portions than usual. Slowly chewing your eggs helps reduce stress on your stomach.1 Cooked eggs are also soft, which might be easy on a sore throat.
6. Fatty Fish


Fatty fish are sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, a sign that your body is getting rid of an infection like a cold or the flu. One of the most common signs of inflammation is pain, such as body aches or earaches.513 Some evidence suggests that omega-3s may also alleviate skin concerns like itching, which may be an allergy symptom.14

Fatty fish include:15Herring

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA recommends you consume between 8 and 12 ounces of fish per week and choose fish types lower in mercury.16
7. Fruits and Vegetables


Some fruits and cooked vegetables are easy on an upset stomach. For example, applesauce, bananas, and potatoes provide essential nutrients you may lose if you have diarrhea or vomiting. Applesauce is a source of potassium and vitamin C but has less fiber than an apple with a peel.1718 Bananas and potatoes also pack potassium potassium.19 Baked or mashed potatoes are also soft enough to eat if you have a sore throat.

Be wary of certain fruits that are high in fiber if you have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Apples, especially with the skin on, berries, pears, and prunes, are more suitable for treating constipation.420

A study published in 2018—conducted in vitro (in a lab rather than in humans)—found that polyphenols, or plant compounds in green leafy vegetables, may reduce inflammation that causes aches and pains while sick.21 Green leafy vegetables include arugula, chard, collard greens, and kale.
8. Golden Milk


Golden milk is a traditional hot drink in India—made from turmeric (a spice) and milk—which may help reduce cold and flu symptoms. Infections can irritate and inflame your nose's blood vessels, making breathing hard. Warm beverages like golden milk can alleviate a stuffy nose. People also traditionally drink golden milk to ease a sore throat and reduce fever.22

Research has found that curcumin has antioxidant properties that may work against bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause infections.23 Curcumin is a pigment that gives turmeric its bright yellowish-orange color. Research the brand of turmeric powder you choose, as globally, some turmeric powders have had high levels of lead.24
9. Hard Candies or Lozenges


Certain foods can coat your throat and soothe the pain if you have a sore throat. Try keeping your throat moist with hard candies or lozenges.25 For example, hard candies made with ginger may help reduce cold symptoms, including a sore throat.10
10. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Yogurt


Yogurt is a source of probiotics, or bacteria that support gut health.26 Probiotics may help alleviate diarrhea one day quicker than other treatments.27

Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products, including yogurt, if you have diarrhea or an upset stomach.11 Greek yogurt may substitute traditional yogurt if your body poorly digests lactose.26

11. Nuts and Seeds


Nuts and seeds pack fiber, which helps alleviate and prevent constipation.28 Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts are also sources of omega-3s, which help lower inflammation if you have body aches, earaches, or itching.29
12. Popsicles


Preventing dehydration is essential if you lose a lot of fluids due to diarrhea or vomiting. Eating foods with water, such as popsicles, helps keep you hydrated.30 Opt for popsicles that do not have chunks of fruit, pulp, or yogurt.31

13. Refined White Flour


Feeling queasy makes all foods sound unappealing, but the right ones can ease symptoms by calming stomach acids. For example, bread, crackers, and pasta made with refined white flour may settle your stomach.1 Refined white rice is low-fiber, bland, and starchy, making it easy on the stomach.

White rice and toast are part of the BRAT diet, which also includes bananas and applesauce. Experts previously advised following the BRAT diet helps treat diarrhea and an upset stomach.32 Research has found that the long-term use of the BRAT diet may be harmful since it lacks essential nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins.33

Instead, ensure that you consume a balanced, healthy amount of carbs, fats, and protein by modifying the BRAT diet for a short period. For example, try pairing toast with foods that will not irritate your stomach, such as clear broth or soup, oatmeal, or saltine crackers.11
14. Soup


Broth and clear soups help keep you hydrated if you have diarrhea or vomiting.31 The sodium in salty broths and soups balances your fluid levels.1134

You might ease an earache, which often occurs with upper respiratory infections, with foods that clear up congestion. Clear and chicken soups help loosen up mucus in nasal passages.35 Soft, creamy soups may also be tolerable if you have a sore throat.
15. Tofu


Tofu, part of the bland diet, can substitute for baked chicken or turkey and fatty fish if you follow a plant-based diet. Tofu has a soft consistency and is easy on your stomach if you cook it without spices.1

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