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Foods that May Prevent Colds and Flu


Updated May 16, 2014

Too Late -- You've Got a Cold or Flu

Good nutrition is still important after you catch a cold or influenza. Hark says that even when you are sick and don't have much of an appetite, you need to eat when you can. Focus on getting three meals per day, and don't forget to keep eating lots of fruits and vegetables. It is important to get enough energy from the foods you eat while you are recuperating -- you may not be running around and exerting much, but your body is working hard to get better.

Hark also stresses the importance of preventing dehydration. Drink fluids throughout the day such as water and juices. Tired of plain water? Add a splash of juice to water or seltzer for a little variety.

Eating a healthy diet is just part of the picture. Hark has other tips to help you stay healthy:

Wash your hands. Your hands come in contact with germs throughout the day. The best way to get rid of them is by washing your hands thoroughly. This is an important part of food safety, too. Wash your hands before preparing meals, after handling raw meats, and before serving foods. Make sure everyone at the table has washed their hands, as well.

Get enough rest. The National Sleep Foundation says most kids don't get enough sleep, and many adults don't either. When you don't get enough sleep, you are more likely to get sick. If you're having trouble getting a good night's sleep, it may help to avoid eating late at night, or just have a bedtime snack.

Get your flu shots. Hark says that it doesn't matter whether you are young or old, getting a flu shot is a good way to prevent the flu. Vaccination is crucial for the elderly and people with respiratory conditions.

Get some exercise. There is strong evidence that people who exercise don't get sick as often. Exercise is important all year, even in the dark and cold of winter. Hark suggests having a plan to keep active in the winter, such as walking on a treadmill, using exercise videos, jumping rope, or going to the gym. And don't forget to bring your workout gear when you travel; many hotels have workout rooms and swimming pools.


Interview with Lisa Hark PhD, RD, director of Nutrition Education Programs of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, December 3, 2007.

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