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 slew 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. But it is all the more important for elderly to fight the flu for that exact reason. Declining health is one of the main fears of the elderly. And to be frank, the flu in the elderly can be dangerous.
Eighty-five percent of seasonal flu-related deaths are people who are 65 years or older. Not to mention, flu-related complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia are common flu-related complications that are more common in the elderly. So even though the flu only lasts a few weeks, the problems can extend beyond that.
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 a 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. This promotes what doctors call good “gut health.” This includes pickled foods, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. But 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.
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 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 effective 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 anyway. Things that worsen health and weaken the immune system, such as sweets, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, bad hygiene, dehydration, stress, and lack of exercise.
Another thing to know for fighting the flu is to see it coming and stop it early. By knowing 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