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5 Surprising Foods that Fight the Flu

By , SparkPeople Blogger

There are a variety of tips to prevent viruses. When you do find yourself not feeling well, there are various cold and flu survival guides to help you cope which is good since this year the fear of the flu is at an all time high.

We have long known that consuming hot liquids like tea or soup can help break up congestion and that unfortunately, viruses take time to run their course. However, what if there are specific foods you could try this year to help the cold and flu viruses move on more quickly to help you get back on your feet.

Here are five surprising foods that you do not typical hear recommended but that just might help you feel better more quickly.
  • Try a 1 oz serving of Brazil nuts to not only get protein but also the richest source of selenium. A small British study found that adequate selenium increases the immune cell production of proteins called cytokines. Cytokines have been found to help clear flu viruses from the body. Because the selenium content can vary and be quite high in Brazil nuts, only consume a serving several times a week and not every day.
  • Christopher Columbus called papaya the "fruit of the angels" because he found the great benefit of this special fruit especially during the winter. Rich in vitamins C, A, K, and E as well as magnesium, folate, beta-carotene and lutein, papaya has been found to help inactivate a variety of viruses so the body can flush them away.
  • Probiotic containing yogurt provides good bacteria that allow the body to defend against germ invaders. When you are fighting the flu, it is important to be sure the yogurt you select contains the seal indicating "Live and Active Cultures" which indicates at least two types of healthy bacteria are present. If you are experiencing a sore throat, try sweetening plain or vanilla yogurt with honey, which will help coat the throat for double the benefit.
  • Sweet potatoes provide a slightly lower glycemic response than traditional white potatoes but when you are sick that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that their high beta-carotene content, which converts to vitamin A, can help you feel better especially if you are experiencing a respiratory infection. Try them baked or pureed and mixed with a small amount of unsweetened applesauce to make a smooth sauce. Better yet have someone make you a nice batch of chicken and sweet potato soup and you will hopefully be on your way to feeling better in no time.
  • Tea has long been thought of as a necessity when battling colds and flu. At the same time, ginger has been found to be an aid to relieve motion sickness and nausea. This year ginger tea might be just the thing to help you feel better quicker. Fresh ginger contains a natural plant compound called gingerol which when heated converts to zingerone, which has been shown to be active against germs. To enjoy a hot cup of ginger tea cut a 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger root and use it to steep one cup of boiling water, sip and enjoy.

Have you ever heard of any of these as aids to battling colds and flu? Will you give any of them a try this year?

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DIVAGLOW 3/8/2021
Thanks for this Report
CECELW 11/30/2020
I've never heard of chicken and sweet potatoe soup Report
I eat a lot of sweet peppers and fresh vegetables at coffee time and it seems to have helped me this year. I have in the past had chicken noodle soup with a shot of tabasco sauce. Report
I eat these foods regularly, except ginger. I do not like the taste of ginger. Report
I do eat sweet potatoes and probitotic yogurt regularly. I eat nuts, but not brazil nuts, several days a week. And so far, I am doing quite well with not getting a cold. I will start eating brazil nuts more often. I will try the ginger and papaya, if needed. It's good that the items on this list are so easy to find in most supermarkets. I will definitely share and save this list. Report
I eat a greek yogurt almost everyday. I prefer the Chobani brand because it has 5 active cultures, including 3 probiotics. I also take a probiotic pill. Probiotics are important to us women for other reasons :) Any serving suggestion for papaya? I bought one once and didn't really know what to do with it... Report
Of course the day after I make a big pot of chicken noodle soup I find this and the chicken sweet potato recipe sounds yummy.
I froze the chicken noodle so I have some on hand for when I get sick. I can't use commercial due to food allergies. Maybe I'll make the chicken sweet potato so I can alternate. Report
I already knew about ginger for the upset tummy. I made a batch of homemade chicken soup - which everyone thought was "THE BOMB!!!!" I'll have to try it with sweet potatoes. Report
I am eating papaya tonight !! Report
Wow, I sure didn't know that about brazil nuts, but try to find them by themselves and not in a mix!! I'll certainly eat more yogurt though, that's a great tip!! Report
Absolutely will try these things. I want to try the chicken and sweet potato soup.

Receipe please? Report
We make a ginger type tea frequently during the fall/winter months. It really helps even when you feel the slightest sore throat. We take a crock pot & fill it not quite to the top, add fresh sliced ginger & about a 1/2 cup brown sugar & set it on low to cook overnight or for quicker results put it on high. Drink & enjoy! It definitely is an aquired taste though. Pretty strong/potent stuff but highly effective. Report
When it comes to tea, especially herbal tea, I am first in line. And ginger is also high on my list of favorites so ginger tea sounds great to me. Report
I have saved this blog and have shared it w/ my daughter. I'll try it and hopefully it's magic like it sounds since they really don't want you coming into dr. office and spreading it more, so get this stuff in your cupboards and be prepared. I think it's worth a try. Report
Chicken and sweet potato soup sounds delicious! Report
Wow, lots of faves there, I don't know how they'd work on this new flu and I don't intend to need them. The H1N1 vaccine was in today's shipments it is now in most hospitals, perhaps by the end of the week the approval will be in place and they will start using it. I am not in one of the 'target groups' so I will have to wait a while, I seldom ever get flu, usually one three day misery cold is about it for me. Ginger, fresh, steeped as tea and candied real ginger are commonly used among ocean racers for sea sickness. Works very well --Ganje works too LOL
Some years ago on Morningside CBC Radio they did several days' programming around 'cures for colds'. The one that stuck with me was to make an infusion of raw ginger, wiskey, honey, garlic and lemon, served hot of course. I understand it to be an Austrailian 'cure'. I tried it on hubby, worked well, but not until he was soooooo sick he would try anything....the cure was pretty awful to choke down. Report
Wonderful suggestion which have used and will continue to use and have avoid the sicknesses that are all going around for sometime now thanks for the reminder especially with the flu in the news everyday one day at a time Report
I compleately agree with the sweet potato chicken soup! My version has honey lime and jalepenos to help sore throats and the sniffles :

The chicken and sweet potato soup sounds really good. Report
I swear by a mixture of hot water, ginger, lemon, and honey. Tasty and healing. And look look - I love that your list is all about whole, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods! Report
I love all the things mentioned in the blog. So I will be trying these things. I have never had the flu before and I sure don't want to start getting it now! So, off to the grocery store I go!!! Report
I have heard of some of these. I will try the Sweet potato chicken soup. Report
I love sweet potatoes, so I'll definitely try that soup. I actually make a turkey and chick pea chili that has loads of chunky sweet potatoes - I'll bet that'd work great, too! I'm not a fan of tea, nor of ginger, but I like the idea of the combination helping to stave off a cold - I just might try it next time. I also love nuts; though I don't usually buy the Brazil nuts, I'm happy to include them in my diet when I'm sick! Report
What about other nuts? Do they help? Report
For over a year now, I've been really successful at fending off colds or making them last just a couple of days by drinking ginger tea with honey and lemon at the slightest sign of a sore throat. No, I didn't like ginger either to start off with, but I got used to it. And you can also pop in some other tea leaves to change the taste a bit. Didn't know about the papaya though, sounds worth a try! Report
I am already doing some of it...especially the chicken soup and nuts. Report
Brazil nuts are my favorite nuts! And love sweet potatoes! Report
The ginger tea makes sense, thanks for the tips! Report
I've used fresh ginger tea as a remedy for many stomach pains and nausea over the years. It works great! The only food on the list I don't eat is papaya- just don't care for it. Report
You actually might want to forego the Brazil nuts. One of the problems with H1N1 is that it's believed to produce what's known as a "Cytokine storm". The immune system, of a healthy individual, tends to overreact to the virus and in turn overwhelms the body. Report
I had no clue about the Brazil Nuts. It is the one kind of nut I don't any many of.
I eat lots of sweet potatos though. Report
I eat Greek yogurt every morning, does that also have probiotic properties? Report
dont forget filtered water....between meals. i drink a gallon a day, no problem. it might take a little getting used to the 'routine' but i miss it if i dont drink enough. Report
I am a lover of sweet potatoes, so another "excuse" to eat them is just great for me! I haven't tried any of these things to fight the flu, but I'm saving this blog entry in my favorites just in case. Thank you! Report
Eat sweet potatos alll the time. And I will try the brazil nuts as well. Report
Good to know that Brazil nuts are so good for you! Love them and sweet potatoes. Report
Great advice. I've tried all of these foods, but never knew about their abilities to help fight the flu. Another great positive that I did know regarding papaya is it's abilities to aid in digestion - it can be a wonder food for anyone who has problems with indigestion. Report
Am I going to try these foods? ABSOLUTELY! Report
These all sound good, and reasonable, when you're sick. I'll have to give some of these a try the next time I'm not feeling well. Report
I love tea, sweet potatoes, cultured yogurt and papaya.. and had them a lot of times.. but brazil nuts.. i dont think i have had any so far..should try them.. Report
I will try the probiotic approach. Since I hardly get sick it may be somewhat academic. Report
There is nothing more soothing than a hot cup of tea when I'm sick! Report
I LOVE sweet potato soup when I'm sick so it's awesome that it has virus-fighting properties. Ginger is great infused with tea and I've used it for sore throats as well. Steep with lemon juice and garlic - it tastes awful but it works. We used to use it as a home remedy when I'd get sick during the ski racing season and have to be out on the hill all day. Warms you up and gets the sickness out quick! Report
I always keep gensing tea in the house...........when I start feeling really bad I drink 4 or 5 cups and go to bed..........In the morning I am better. Report
For years I have kept "Celestial Wild Berry Zinger" and "Tazo Wild Sweet Orange" in my house to help me fight off a cold. I make about 6-12oz mugs of tea in a 8 hour period or until I'm sick of the tea to fight off a cold if I feel it coming on. The next day, I'm over it. Saves me Every time! But my other trick is a couple of Peperoncini's everyday in the fall, they aren't hot, but they have a bite (I hate spicy foods). Yum! But all in all, none of this will be worth the effort, if your not eating right. Got the snotty nose, get off the dairy! Have a Great week. Report
I have never tried chicken and sweet potatoe soup but am thinking I might. Sounds yummy. I am not a fan of ginger so I doubt that I will try that. Everything else I will try. Report