The flu is no fun, so boost your body’s defences by eating and drinking right. By Deborah Lin
It’s the height of the flu season (May to July), and it’s easy to catch the bug when everyone around you is sneezing and sniffling away. Other than popping your vitamin Cs, add these to your diet to fend off the flu.
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1. Fight Flu Naturally With… Coconut Water or Chicken Soup
A dehydrated body is less capable of fending off viruses. That’s because the body’s first line of defence – the mucus membrane and mucus within the nasal cavity – become less effective in trapping foreign particles when dry.
If you’re already feeling under the weather, try drinking more fluids in the form of chicken soup (research shows it alleviates symptoms like inflammation) and coconut water. The latter is a good source of electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In order for your cells and organs to function properly, you will need more electrolytes to replenish what you’ve lost through sweat, vomiting or diarrhoea.
2. Fight Flu Naturally With… Probiotics
Research shows that good gut bacteria may help the immune system respond faster and more effectively against a viral or bacterial threat. According to Harvard Medical School in the US, certain bacteria in the gut influence the development of aspects of the immune system, such as correcting deficiencies and increasing the numbers of various cells. There’s more on why probiotics are healthy.
In a study published in British Journal of Nutrition, people who took probiotic supplements had increased levels – up to 66 per cent – of an antibody. They also had a reduced rate of infection, compared to the placebo group. A recent meta-analysis published in The Cochrane Library also showed that probiotics were 47 per cent more effective than placebos in reducing the risk of acute upper respiratory tract infections.
Valerie Teo, a food and juice therapy consultant and founder of health food cafe, Good Food Heals, swears by probiotics too. Flu-free for nine years now, she credits it to her diet that’s rich in cultured (fermented) foods. Think lassi (Indian yogurt drink), sauerkraut (German fermented cabbage) and kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables). Besides probiotics, cultured foods are also high in vitamins, says Valerie.