Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
It’s true that food can do much more than provide energy.
And when you’re sick, eating the right foods is more important than ever.
Certain foods have powerful properties that can support your body while it’s fighting an illness.
They may relieve certain symptoms and even help you heal more quickly.
These are the 15 best foods to eat when sick.
Chicken soup has been recommended as a remedy for the common cold for hundreds of years — and for good reason
It’s an easy-to-eat source of vitamins, minerals, calories and protein, which are nutrients your body needs in larger quantities while you’re sick
Chicken soup is also an excellent source of fluids and electrolytes, both of which are necessary for hydration if you’re making frequent trips to the bathroom.
Your body will also need even more fluids if you have a fever
What’s more, one study found chicken soup to be more effective at clearing nasal mucus than any other liquid studied. This means it’s a natural decongestant, perhaps in part because it gives off hot steam
Another reason for this effect is that chicken contains the amino acid cysteine. N-acetyl-cysteine, a form of cysteine, breaks apart mucus and has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
Chicken soup also inhibits the action of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that may cause symptoms such as coughing and a stuffy nose.
Chicken soup’s ability to inhibit these cells could partially explain why it is so effective against some cold and flu symptoms
2 . Broths
Similar to chicken soup, broths are excellent sources of hydration while you’re sick.
They’re full of flavor and can contain calories, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, folate and phosphorous
If you drink them while hot, broths also have the wonderful benefit of acting as a natural decongestant because of the hot steam
Drinking broth is a good way to stay hydrated, and the rich flavors can help you feel satisfied. This is especially helpful if your stomach is unsettled and you are unable to keep down solid foods.
If you’re salt-sensitive and buy broth from the store, be sure to buy a low-sodium variety as most broths are very high in salt.
If you’re making broth from scratch, it may have even more benefits — including a higher calorie, protein and nutrient content.
Many people rave about the benefits of bone broth and claim it has many healing properties, although currently there are no studies on its benefits.
Garlic can provide all sorts of health benefits.
It has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries and has demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects
It can also stimulate the immune system
Few high-quality human studies have explored the effects of garlic on the common cold or flu, but some have found promising results.
One study found that people who took garlic got sick less often. Overall, the garlic group spent about 70% fewer days sick than the placebo group .
In another study, people taking garlic not only got sick less often, but they got better 3.5 days faster than the placebo group, on average .
Additionally, several studies showed that aged garlic extract supplements can enhance immune function and decrease the severity of colds and the flu .
Adding garlic to chicken soup or broth can both add flavor and make them even more effective at fighting off cold or flu symptoms.