Skip to content

    Foods That May Keep the Flu Away

    By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD


    In addition to some seriously freezing temperatures there are some really nasty things going around this winter – coughs, sneezes, fevers, sore throats. A picture went viral recently that read: “the flu is not a season! It is an inability to adapt due to decreased sun exposure + water intake, combined with increased sugar intake and stress. Create resistance.”  I have to agree, the flu is NOT a season, and I also agree that there are some things you can do to try to keep flu – and other bugs – at bay. In addition to the basics like getting a flu shot, washing your hands often, and getting plenty of rest, below are a few food-related tips that may help “kick the sick”:

    1. Vitamin D: During the winter (and during icky weather) there are fewer sunny hours and we are more likely to stay inside. We get Vitamin D from the sun, and research shows it may be  essential for immunity – not to mention bone health, weight control, energy and mood. You may want to check with your doctor to see if you are low or deficient in vitamin D. If you are, your doctor can recommend the best way to get your levels up.
    2. Probiotic: Probiotics are typically recommended when you have an upset tummy or if you’re on antibiotics. But some research suggests that they may have immune boosting benefits. I recommend taking one year round – before, during and after you’re sick. And especially if your doctor puts you on antibiotics! As always, check with your doctor to make sure it’s ok for you.
    3. Processed foods: it’s not new news that processed foods should be limited in your diet.
    4. Water: Hydrate like crazy. Water, tea and low sodium soups are fantastic.


    On the soup note, below is a recipe for one of my favorites for battling cold/flu ick.  It’s a resolution-friendly one – and I suggest the more ginger, hot sauce and garlic the better. I love making a huge batch over the weekend, then having soup for the week.

    Ingredients (makes 6 servings)

    1/2 cup carrots, sliced

    1/4 cup onions, diced

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

    1 cup green cabbage, diced

    1 cup spinach, chopped

    1 tbsp tomato paste

    1/2 tsp dried basil

    1/4 tsp dried oregano

    1/4 tsp salt

    1 cup zucchini, diced

    2 tbsp minced fresh ginger OR hot sauce


    • Spray a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray, and heat.
    • Place carrot, onion and garlic in saucepan. Sauté vegetables over low heat for 5 minutes, until softened.
    • Add broth, cabbage, spinach, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt, ginger. Bring saucepan to a boil.
    • Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in zucchini, and cook 3-4 minutes.

    The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


    Subscribe to free WebMD newsletters.

    • WebMD Daily

      WebMD Daily

      Subscribe to the WebMD Daily, and you'll get today's top health news and trending topics, and the latest and best information from WebMD.

    • Men's Health

      Men's Health

      Subscribe to the Men's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, nutrition, and more from WebMD.

    • Women's Health

      Women's Health

      Subscribe to the Women's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, diet, anti-aging, and more from WebMD.

    By clicking Submit, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.

    URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices