What to Do and Eat if You Catch the Flu
We’ve been talking a lot about the flu recently. Flu season has arrived. As we’re wearing masks, washing our hands more frequently and using social distance to protect ourselves from COVID-19, we might have a lower chance of catching it. It’s still crucial to get the vaccine. For one thing, there is always the possibility you’ll become ill. For another, doctors worry you’ll have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
If you catch the flu, you must take care of yourself. That means staying at home and resting. You should avoid the other people in your home as much as possible to avoid making them sick. Drink plenty of clear fluids, like water, tea and soup, to prevent dehydration. Use OTC medications for fevers and coughs. And, call your doctor to ask for advice to be sure you don’t need any specific treatments for your medical concerns. This year, that last step is especially important: your doctor needs to rule out COVID-19. It has spread far beyond cities and is blanketing the country in a way it hadn’t before. Even places that were COVID-19-free no longer are.
While we’ve all heard the old adage that you should starve a fever and feed a cold, it’s not true. A healthy immune system needs a nutritious diet. Whether or not you are running a fever, some foods can boost your body’s ability to fight off an infection while you are ill.
“There’s no doubt that a healthy diet improves your immunity to illness,” said Dr. Cassandra Calabrese, an immunologist. “What you put in your body is important for your overall health, including your immune system.”
Dr. Calabrese stressed the importance of staying hydrated, “Your body needs hydration more than any specific food when you’re fighting an illness. Stay hydrated with water or electrolyte-rich beverages. You can also drink broths and herbal tea. But don’t have caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda.”
In addition to avoiding caffeine, it’s essential to avoid foods that cause inflammation. When you have inflammation, your immune system has to deal with that as well as an infection. Reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats while increasing your intake of omega-3 fats can help. The Mediterranean diet is excellent for immune health because it follows that pattern.
Two of the best things you can do are getting the flu shot and starting an immune system-boosting diet to prepare for flu season. Get plenty of sleep and follow all the same precautions you’ve been taking for COVID-19. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!