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Flu, diet and remedies to prevent and treat viral infections

January 08, 2023
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Flu, diet and remedies to prevent and treat viral infections

Herbal teas, remedies and diet to prevent and combat flu, cough, sore throat and cold

With the colder months, the flu also makes its appearance. Changes in temperature, gatherings and overeating make our body weaker and increase the risk of contracting a viral infection, with cough, cold, fever and sore throat. In addition to the normal hygiene measures, such as washing our hands often and avoiding crowds, and referring to our doctor, what can we do to prevent a viral infection or, in the case of an infection already present, improve its course? At our disposal, fortunately, we have several remedies to make our body stronger and put it in the best conditions to fight a possible viral infection, starting now, even if we are healthy.

The role of the diet against the flu

Ensuring a varied and balanced diet, capable of providing vitamins, such as A, D, E and C, but also mineral salts, such as zinc, iron and selenium, inulin and polyphenols is crucial to fight the flu. In fact, these compounds act in a dual way, on the one hand directly inhibiting the virus and on the other hand increasing the body's defenses (Thirumdas et al, Trends Food Sci Technol, 2021). The foods that mostly contain these substances are citrus fruits, but also carrots, wheat germ oil, walnuts and other nuts, oilseeds, garlic, onion, chicory, bananas, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, green leafy vegetables and mushrooms. Cereals are also excellent, such as oats and barley, which, thanks to their content in beta glucans, a type of fiber, help the body to fortify itself against viral infections. In fact, beta glucans can directly inhibit viral particles and increase defenses (Thirumdas et al, Trends Food Sci Technol, 2021). It should be emphasized that the diet should always be balanced, and we should never exceed foods that are too rich in fat. In fact, studies have observed that a diet too rich in fat worsens the course in the case of a viral infection, increasing inflammation, especially in the lungs and heart (Siegers et al, J Infect Dis, 2020).

Green tea helps prevent the flu

A cup of green tea, about 120 ml, contains up to 150 mg of catechins, which are powerful antioxidant substances. Catechins are also antiviral, although the mechanism of action is still poorly understood. Well, in regular green tea consumers, who drink 1 to 5 cups a day, the risk of a viral infection is significantly lower, indicating that green tea, as part of a healthy and varied diet, can contribute to preventing flu (Rawangkan et al, Molecules, 2021).

Echinacea and flu

At the first flu symptoms it can be helpful to take a tea based on echinacea, 4-5 cups for 5 days. This allowed the symptoms to resolve faster (Lindenmuth et al, J Altern Complement Med, 2000). To make echinacea tea, get the dried roots of the plant, you can find them in herbalist's or chemist's shops. In a saucepan, pour a glass of cold water and a spoonful of echinacea. Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes, then remove from the heat and let it rest for five minutes, then filter and drink.

Fresh ginger to fight viruses

Fresh ginger, but not dried ginger, has been shown to inhibit viral infections, especially the infection caused by the respiratory syncytial virus. Ginger was found to be able to block the adhesion of the virus to the airways and to stimulate the body's natural defenses (Chang et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 2013).

Honey to ease the cough

In case of cough, honey helps. In fact, the intake of honey made it possible to attenuate or completely resolve the cough, even the most insistent and nocturnal one (Oduwole et al, Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2018).

Water and salt to heal faster

Nasal irrigation and gargles with saline solutions, which can be purchased in pharmacies, have allowed, on the basis of scientific studies, to reduce the duration of the disease in case of upper respiratory tract infection, the transmissibility of infection itself within the family unit and the use of drugs (Ramalingam et al, Sci Rep, 2019).

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