What to Consume When the Flu Comes On

By Katrina Aceret, an ASU Nutrition Communication Student

Flu season is upon us. Hopefully, you won’t catch the flu this season.  But, if you do, the following are the top 3 things to consume.

Young girl sick with mom getting ready to test her temperature with thermometer

Mom’s chicken soup is the right thing to serve

Chicken soup has been labelled the “old wives’ tale” and has been used to symbolize all home remedies. In 2000, a study was done by Dr. Stephen Rennard using blood samples from volunteers that consume chicken soup. It was found that chicken soup inhibits neutrophils which are white blood cells that defend infection. Also when chicken soup is sipped, it may stimulate nasal clearance and may improve upper respiratory tract symptoms (Rennard, 2000).


Hot tea makes us all feel better

Green and black tea are rich in antioxidants. Tea will help loosen secretions in the chest and sinuses, making them easier to expel and ultimately clearing up congestion (O’Connor, 2009). According to the British Journal of Nutrition consuming green tea improved mood and lowered blood pressure when one was sick. Hot tea is great with lemon and honey. Include a lemon in your tea, lemon contains vitamin C which helps fight again the colds and flu.


Let’s add a little honey to that

Honey has been found to soothe a cough. Honey is known to have polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Although there was has been no studies for adults, there has been increasing evidence where a single dose of honey might reduce mucus secretion and actually reduce a cough in children. Adults would need a higher dose and increased frequency. For adults, the best recommendation would be hot tea and honey to soothe a cough.


While Fill Your Plate doesn’t feature recipes specifically geared to improving the flu or a cold, we have lots of home-cooked recipes including Chicken and Wild Rice Soup that will warm the heart and start making us feel better fast.





Rennard, B. O., Ertl,R.F., Gossman, G.L., Robbins R.A., Rennard S, I. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro (2000, October) Chest Journal, 118 (4), 1150-1157

O’Connor, A. The claim: hot liquids can ease symptoms of a cold or flu (2009) The New York Times.

Steinmann, J., Buer, J., Pietschmann, T., & Steinmann, E. (2013). Anti‐infective properties of epigallocatechin‐3‐gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea. British journal of pharmacology168(5), 1059-1073.

Goldman, R.D., Honey for treatment of cough in children (2014) Canadian Family Physician, 60(12) 1107-1110

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