Nutrition Tips When You’re Sick

I don’t know about ya’ll but January and February is always a time when at the least, I get a head cold. I’m congested, lethargic, and don’t have an appetite. What are the important things to remember when you are sick to help your body fight and recover?

Before we get into this, I wanted to mention this is a generalization of topics to keep in mind when you’re not feeling your best. “Sick” can mean a lot of different illnesses, and some illnesses will require more than just paying attention to these topics. But as a good rule of thumb, these are things to always keep in mind when you’re not feeling 100%.

HYDRATION

Anytime I go to the doctor with a cold, allergies, or an infection the one thing all doctors say – drink plenty of fluids. Why?

All processes of your body need water. When you’re sick your body is working harder . If you have congestion, drainage, sweating off a fever you are more easily to become dehydrated. All of those take excess water. Then if you are taking medication – whether over the counter or prescribed, it works better when you are properly hydrated and body will be able to process it better. On top of that – your body needs a way to release anything that is toxic from your body and that mean through the kidneys as urine, or through your stool, which also is a process that takes a lot of water. If you’re dehydrated, you won’t be going to the bathroom.

What can you do? Drink water, mix in electrolyte drinks. Electrolytes help with fluid balance. These fluids would include sports drinks, broth, and herbal teas. However, the main two electrolytes are sodium and potassium, so if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you can talk to your doctor about these, but to be safe, stick to water and herbal teas.

PROTEIN

Protein is important in your daily life and activities, but also plays an important role when you’re sick. Usually when your have a fever or head cold with drainage, you might not have much of an appetite. However, if you are to eat anything if you can keep it down, is to have something that is a good source of protein. Why?

When people first hear protein, you think muscle. Which is true – muscle is built from proteins, but pretty much everything else is structured with proteins as well, which includes your immune system. When your body is fighting off something – even if it’s allergies – it creates antibodies to do the fighting. Those antibodies are made from protein. If you are not taking in enough protein when your body is trying to fight, it will draw on the protein you have stored in your muscles. Your body is a resourceful machine. But losing muscle mass is not necessarily something that we want. To prevent this, if you can eat, try to make sure you are able to get some protein.

If you are not hungry at all, a tip is that you can grab a protein shake and sip on that next to your water or herbal tea.

FIBER

Fiber is something else that is important for a healthy body in general, but it specifically has to do with your digestive system. When you’re sick your body processes that don’t have to directly deal with your immune system and fighting, will slow down.

Then adding on top of that a better chance of you being dehydrated, taking medications that can affect your bowel movements, things can slow way down.

To keep a healthy gut, which is where a lot of our immune system is, we first need to make sure we are hydrated – always number one – but to also help move things along, we need fiber. This includes eating foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.

Fiber traps water – so again, first and foremost is staying hydrated! It does this because it traps water to loosen stools. The soluble fiber helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. And Insoluble fiber adds bulk which helps move things along in your digestive track.

BOTTOM LINE

  1. HYDRATION: Constantly sip on something anytime you are awake enough to do it.
  2. PROTEIN: If you are able to eat, make sure there is protein sources included. If you are having a hard time and not feeling like eating, grab a small protein shake.
  3. FIBER: To help your gut stay healthy and keep things moving, water/hydration is still number one here too, but also fiber helps to feed the good bacteria and move things along in our digestive track.

RECIPES

How do these points translate into food and recipes? The number one sick food people think of is Chicken Noodle Soup. Broth = hydration, Chicken = protein, and Veggies = fiber!

Below are links to three of my soup recipes already on the blog to get you started!

I will also be posting a new video on my YouTube Channel with the information I’ve shared with you here, along with a video of the recipes! So if you haven’t already, click the link below to see my YouTube Channel! My first video will be posted tomorrow and if you are subscribed it will pop up on your feed tomorrow! EEK!

As always, keep finding your “beet”! Talk to y’all soon.

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Coffee & Hydration

As the weather becomes cooler and the shorter the days get, the more coffee I consume. Especially on gloomy rainy days, coffee is a must. I used to think I needed to drink more water throughout the day when I had more than my usual 1 cup of coffee, but studies have shown for years now, that moderate habitual coffee consumption does not have a dehydrating effect. When I say moderate habitual coffee consumption, I mean 3-6 cups a day. If you need a refresher on the studies done a few years ago, or want to see for yourself, the studies are below.

Studies: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3886980/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11022872/

What does this mean?

Caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means that it activates the kidneys to get rid of excess sodium and water. However, when drinking coffee or tea, you are drinking liquid with the diuretic caffeine, and thus are adding to the liquid so nothing is actually lost.

This doesn’t mean you can replace all water intake with coffee or tea, but it can be counted towards your liquid intake for the day for hydration.

If you are needing to rehydrate after working out, being in the heat for a long period of time, or being sick, water and sports drinks are still the best option. Also, right after waking up, water is still the best option since you are more than likely dehydrated from 6-8+ hours of not having any liquids. So rehydrate before caffeine, but you shouldn’t worry about caffeine dehydrating you in a hydrated state. Did that make sense at all?

And remember, everyone has their limit of caffeine that they can handle. Some can not handle any type of caffeine. Some can take certain types, but not others. And some are tolerant to it and can consume more. Where ever you are in the spectrum, as long as its in moderation, coffee and tea are not dehydrating to your system.

So enjoy your cup of joe in the morning! Mornings are for coffee and hydration or…late morning…afternoon…evening…