5 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu and Need to Feel Better ASAP

We hate to admit it, but flu season is here. We’re pretty much willing to try anything to avoid getting sick, so we checked in with Dr. Michelle Davenport, the co-founder of Raised Real and an RD with a PhD in nutrition, to learn about the right foods to eat when we have the flu. Here’s what she recommends.

8 Unexpected Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

flu foods kale
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

1. Kale

Remember when, circa 2015, kale was the thing? It may have lost some of its superstar status in the food world, but it’s still extremely good for you. Brassica vegetables like kale (and broccoli) are nutritional heavy-hitters, packing in vitamins C and E. To aid in absorption, pair these with healthy fats like avocado or olive oil. In addition to vitamin C’s immune-boosting powers, a study at Tufts University found that vitamin E is associated with both enhanced resistance to influenza and reduced risk of acquiring upper respiratory infections in older adults.

What to make: Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

flu food salmon
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

2. Wild Salmon

This delicious fish is one of the few food sources that’s naturally high in vitamin D3. The best way to absorb this nutritional heavy-hitter is from the sun, but adequate sunlight isn't always available during the winter. (Womp-womp.) A Queen Mary University of London study showed that vitamin D may protect from respiratory infections and the flu—an excellent reason to keep eating the catch of the day (as long as it’s salmon) straight through winter.

What to make: Salmon Bowl with Farro, Black Beans and Tahini Dressing

flu foods garlic
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

3. Garlic

Sure, it’ll make your breath stink for a little while, but when you consider the health benefits, garlic is more than worth it. Garlic helps the body absorb iron and zinc, important nutrients for building immunity. Even more than that, a clinical trial at the University of Florida showed that aged garlic may enhance immune cell function and may reduce the severity of colds and the flu. Pungent breath be damned—it’s for your health.

What to make: Garlic Breaded Roast Chicken Breast

flu food ginger
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. Ginger

There’s a reason ginger is in almost every single one of those super-healthy juices you want to buy but never really do. It’s a well-known immunity-building food. Per a study from India’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, compounds in ginger inhibit the protein in the influenza virus that causes infection. For an easy boost, cut a slice and throw it into your water bottle; with slightly more effort, you can recreate this delicious Japanese-inspired dressing.

What to make: Carrot-Ginger Dressing

flu foods turmeric

5. Turmeric

If 2015 was the year of kale, 2017 has been all about turmeric (pronounced TER-mer-ic, in case you were wondering). In addition to adding a really pretty, rich color to any dish it’s a part of, turmeric is, like, next-level good for you. Per a study at Nanjing Medical University in China, curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, relieves inflammation by blocking inflammatory pathways caused by the influenza virus. To increase the power of curcumin, Dr. Davenport suggests pairing it with black pepper. Trendy and flu-fighting? Pretty damn perfect.

What to make: Turmeric-Garlic Shrimp

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...