When flu season is upon us, it may take more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Apples are just one option in a slough of foods and activities that work together to fight the flu.
Fighting the flu is particularly difficult for the elderly, who tend to have weaker immune systems. However, it is all the more important for the elderly to fight the flu for that exact reason. Declining health is one of the main fears of the elderly. Also, the flu in the elderly can be dangerous.
Flu Fighting Foods for Seniors
At Daystar Retirement Village, we plan menus that allow residents to choose from an array of delicious and healthy foods. Eating a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables is always a good plan, one that will ensure you get the nutrients needed to fuel an active lifestyle.
Here is a list of the best food for flu-fighting that scientists say are particularly healthful when it comes to fighting the flu:
Citrus is the best way to get vitamin C, which many believe shortens the length of the flu. However, contrary to popular belief, it is better to eat citrus before and not during the flu because the acidity can bother an already irritated stomach. There are many options to choose from: oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and more. Just one orange gives you all the vitamin C you need for a whole day.
Probiotic foods are foods that have microorganisms that fight unhealthy bacteria, and this promotes what doctors call good “gut health.”; this includes pickled foods, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. However, remember that these foods are better for preventing the flu than they are for eating with the flu. Yogurt and pickled foods are known to make stomach discomfort worse when sick.
Hot tea is the prime stomach-soothing drink. Herbal teas such as ginger, lemon, and nettle all have powerful nutritional value in addition to calming upset tummies.
Chicken and turkey are loaded with useful antioxidants and nutrients for fighting the flu; this is why a hot bowl of chicken noodle always hits the spot when you’re sick.
Foods high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are produced by your body to fight harmful agents. There are so many options to choose from, too: berries, dark chocolate, spinach, kale, and beets are all loaded with antioxidants.
Other Ways to Prevent Flu in the Elderly
A flu diet is just one factor in preventing the flu in the elderly. Though eating the right foods does a lot to boost the immune system, it can’t work alone. There are other things seniors can do (and not do) to prevent the flu.
Good hygiene makes for good health. A lot of what makes the elderly more susceptible to the flu is their weaker immune systems, but if you prevent contact with those germs in the first place by keeping clean, you decrease your chance of getting the flu. So wash those hands several times a day, especially before and after meals, to stay healthy.
Drinking water is one of those general good health practices that help fight just about any illness. Water keeps the body and immune system running strong. Doctors recommend that seniors drink eight or more glasses of water per day.
Stress is known to weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to the influenza virus. Often staying happy is the best way to stay healthy (and vice versa). Socializing and getting regular exercise are both great ways to reduce stress in seniors.
WebMD says, “When you exercise, your white blood cells — the ones that fight infections — travel through your body faster and do their jobs better.” It’s understandably more difficult to get exercise as a senior, but using low impact exercises such as walking, yoga, and chair exercises are practical and fun ways for seniors to stay active and fight the flu.
Things to Avoid
Generally, the things you should avoid when fighting the flu are things you should avoid regularly. Things that worsen health and weaken the immune system, such as sweets, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, bad hygiene, dehydration, stress, and lack of exercise.
Warning Signs of the Flu in the Elderly
Another thing to know for fighting the flu is to see it coming and stop it early. By understanding the warning signs of the flu, seniors can know when they need to work on boosting their immune system and potentially talk to their doctor.
According to the CDC, these are the main warning signs of the flu:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Don’t fight it alone. A proper diet works even better at preventing the flu when paired with the flu vaccine. If you see the warning signs of the flu, make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor to prevent complications.