One of the best ways to prevent infections is to boost your overall immunity with good nutrition. A balanced whole-foods diet provides a variety of nutrients you need to defend yourself against illness.
But what should you eat if you come down with a cold or flu?
Foods to Eliminate a Viral Infection
The typical symptoms of a viral infection include headaches, sore throat, runny nose and generalized pain throughout the body. These reactions are the result of your lymphatic system attempting to cleanse your body while it fights the viral infection.
During this stage of the illness it is important to choose foods that will support this natural cleansing process. This means choosing foods that are:
- High in water content
- Easy to digest
- Fresh and unprocessed
- Contain immune-enhancing nutrients
- Have an antiviral effect
It is best to avoid heavy foods when you are recovering from a flu. This is because your body needs to put its energy into healing – not digestion.
Stay away from meat, dairy products, sugar and refined grains. Not only are these foods difficult to digest, they also increase mucus-production and lymphatic congestion.
The right choices will help you achieve a speedy recovery. Fresh fruits and freshly squeezed juices are some of the best foods to help you get better fast.
You can also emphasize the following foods in your diet that have specific antiviral properties:
It may seem like an obvious choice but oranges have a lot more to offer than vitamin C when it comes to enhancing immunity.
Oranges contain compounds called limonoids that are under investigation for their therapeutic antiviral effects. They also offer hesperidin, which works together with vitamin C to combat infections and protect the heart and blood vessels.
Many of these health-promoting phytochemicals are found in the pith – the white part that surrounds the orange. So it is probably best to include whole oranges as well as fresh orange juice – although both are beneficial.
Fresh pineapple is rich in bromelain; an enzyme that helps breakdown mucus and reduce inflammation.
Some tests show that bromelain can kill certain bacteria and viruses. It may be especially beneficial for people with bronchitis and pneumonia.
Coconut water contains medium chain fatty acids – including lauric acid – which is used by the body to make monolaurin. Monolaurin has been demonstrated to effectively destroy the viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C and HIV as well as gram-positive bacteria.
Fresh young coconut water is a great choice when you are fighting a viral infection. It is highly effective for replenishing body fluids due to its high levels of electrolytes. This also makes it a primary remedy to prevent dehydration when vomiting or diarrhea is present.
Mango juice has been shown to destroy viruses. Recent research has demonstrated that the bioactive compounds present in mangoes also exert anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and antibacterial properties.
When you are not feeling well mangoes are a great choice because they are delicious and easy to digest. They are also very rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, which all support your immune system.
Since Roman times the lemon has been revered as a flu remedy. It was also used by ancient Egyptians to protect against poison and has historically been revered for its mild antibiotic and expectorant properties.
Lemons are also highly astringent – a quality that accounts for their effectiveness for cleansing the lymphatic system. The astringent compounds also help to thin out mucus, making it easier to eliminate from the body.
Twelve separate antiviral substances have been identified in ginger, making it a great choice when you have a viral infection.
It also has a mild pain-relieving action to assist with alleviating symptoms such as headaches, joint pains and sore throats. Additionally it is an effective remedy for nausea.
Manuka honey contains a compound called ‘Methylglyoxal’ or MGO, which possesses very powerful antibacterial and antiviral activity. It is available in different strengths and for treating a viral infection you should look for manuka honey with an activity rating of 10 or more.
Our favorite is Organic Manuka Honey 16+
Manuka honey is especially effective in relieving a painful sore throat. It can deal with the infection before it is able to travel to the bronchials or lungs, thus preventing the condition from becoming more serious.
Supporting Your Immune System
The most essential thing to remember when dealing with a viral infection is to support your body’s natural processes of healing and elimination. This means avoiding anything that increases congestion, while emphasizing cleansing foods.
Eating raw foods with a high water and nutrient content will help you recover much faster. Foods that contain specific properties to help you get rid of a viral infection will further enhance this process. For a healthy immune system it is also important to get plenty of rest and sleep.
This approach will generally shorten the duration of the infection and reduce symptoms in most cases. However, if your condition becomes worse or you are experiencing serious symptoms please seek professional assistance.