LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF WHEN THE FLU STRIKES
By Nutrition Expert
Friday, February 05, 2010.
Before the winter is over, very few of us will have escaped without a spell of runny noses and chesty coughs, or worse, a week in bed with the flu. While it can be a nice excuse to wallow in self-pity and be pampered by partners, mums, housemates (delete as appropriate), it can also be pretty miserable feeling rundown and wondering if you’ll ever be able to make it to the top of the stairs again without your legs giving way half way up.
The last thing you want to do is cook, but you shouldn’t take the old saying ‘Feed a cold, starve a fever’ too literally. Having the flu is NOT an excuse to starve yourself in the hope that some good will come out of it all in the form of weight loss. You really need to ‘keep up your strength’ and your body needs fluid, nutrients and rest more than ever! Here are some tips to help you through these nasty bouts and hopefully keep you healthy throughout:
· If you do lose your appetite for a day or two, make sure you drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juice.
· When you are able to eat, choose plain, light foods that are easy to prepare and easily digested. Chicken or vegetable soups are great choices, as is hot cereal such as porridge, and these are all great ways of packing in nutrition.
· Try to eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges and kiwi fruit in order to help boost your immune system. Smoothies are a great way to help fulfill your 5-a-day of fruit and veg.
· As you get better, gradually increase your food intake and introduce more foods such as eggs for protein and wholemeal bread for fibre.
There might even be a ring of truth to the old wives’ tale. Scientists have found that eating increases the production of a chemical messenger called a cytokine, which stimulates the immune system against chronic illnesses. In the same investigation, volunteers who were starved had increased amounts of a different cytokine which helps in the defence against acute infections like fevers and flu.
Whether you have a cold or flu, remember to take it easy and don’t rush back to work or you’ll only end up in bed again with a relapse and you’ll probably pass on whatever you have to half of your work colleagues.