By Peggy Butler
It is interesting to note that your body has the ability to fight viral
infections all by itself. Surprisingly,
antibiotics won’t do a thing for cold, flu or stomach virus, or the diarrhea
and sore throat that often accompany them. Hence, you can help your system recover
quicker, by carefully watching what you eat and drink.
Generally, when a virus
strikes, you should eat simply. Avoid foods that are hard to digest, like fried
dishes, rich sauces, gravy and heavy desserts. Moreover, if you are not hungry,
don’t force yourself to eat. A day or two without food won’t hurt you, but
liquids are essential. As you recover, your appetite will return, and you can
work your way back to a normal diet.
Specifically, how you eat depends on where the virus strikes and what your
symptoms are. The same virus can cause different reactions in each victim.
Fever: An extremely high fever makes you sweat. The
dangers are dehydration and loss of salt. To counteract these symptoms drink
liquids with a high salt content, such as Gatorade, tomato juice or lemonade
with a pinch of salt. If you are hot, treat yourself to cool beverages. During
the chills stage drink hot soup or tea. Caution:
Tea can increase urine output and cause further dehydration. As for food, keep
it simple: toast, soup, cottage cheese and yogurt.
Stuffy Nose: There’s evidence that chicken soup actually does help clear nasal
passages. So mom was right after all, soup is a great remedy for colds.
When headaches are brought on by fever and sinus congestion, caffeine can bring
relief because it constricts blood vessels. Drink tea, coffee or colas, as well
as aspirin preparations that include caffeine. It is important to treat sinus
headaches with decongestants.
Upset stomach: Nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration, as well as a lack of
desire to eat or drink. You don’t have to eat, but liquids are important. Chew
on ice chips or sip water or soda. As for milk, it is hard for some adults to
digest. When the stomach is unsettled, milk should be avoided for several days.
Replacing lost fluids, potassium and sodium with juice or broth is necessary
with severe diarrhea. Best recommendations: Gatorade or sweet lemonade. When
you are feeling better, you can begin eating simple foods with slightly
constipative properties: rice, bananas and mild cheeses.
Recommended Eating: A healthy diet for keeping fit and staving off
infections is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fresh
fruits and vegetables), with adequate protein (meat, fish and dairy products)
and low in fats (particularly saturated ones like butter and cheese and simple
So the next time your body
is invaded by a virus determined to reek havoc, a cure can be as simple as a
slice of toast. Here’s to Good Health.