You tried your absolute best to keep yourself healthy, but with all the stressors of college life, you fell a bit short. Maybe you haven’t been eating a healthy diet, have been missing out on extra hours of sleep or are just too stressed to fully take care of yourself. One thing is certain: You’re sick.
Story by Carly Luczak
Art by Sarang Kim
When you're suffering through an illness, the last thing on your mind is nutrition. ORANGE Magazine gets it. Lying in bed and watching Netflix is so much more appealing than wasting your time fumbling around in the kitchen. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you fill yourself with nutrients so your body can fight its way through the infection. Here are the top things to eat and drink when those tiny invaders come knocking, tailored to the college student.
Your body is about 60 percent water and needs to stay around that level in order to function properly. The human heart, muscles and brain are an even higher percentage, so when you’re sweating during a fever or losing liquids, dehydration can wreak havoc on the body. It is recommended to drink at least eight cups (64 ounces) of water daily in order to keep the body hydrated, but if your illness involves throwing up or diarrhea, drink more. Feel free to substitute a few cups for drinks with electrolytes, like Pedialyte and Gatorade. Hydration is key.
GINGER TEA WITH LEMON AND HONEY
This tea is the ultimate triple threat for stomach aches, stuffy sinuses and a sore throat. Ginger and lemon help ease an upset digestive system, while honey soothes throat pain and calms a dry cough. Note that raw, untreated honey is best because it contains all the naturally occurring enzymes and antibacterial agents that are normally destroyed in processing. As the those three ingredients work their nutritional magic, the tea’s warm temperature breaks up congestion in your nasal passages. Win-win-win!
Mushrooms of many varieties help kick the immune system into high gear. Certain types activate B-cells and T-cells, which are crucial to fighting off more complex attackers. Chop some up and mix them with eggs to make a mushroom omelette. If you can handle spice, dribble a little bit of hot sauce on top to increase mucus production. Spicy foods can be especially helpful when your sinuses are dry.
Not only is salmon delicious, it is also packed with nourishing proteins and fats, most notably omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play a role in reducing excess inflammation, while the high protein content helps your body build the proteins and antibodies it needs to stop infections in their tracks. HEB’s Meal Simple Garlic Salmon requires no prep time and comes with sides, like immune-boosting broccoli and antiviral garlic root. Just pop it in the oven and watch as your ailments bake away!
Greek yogurt is an excellent food to eat when sick because it is high in calcium, protein and probiotics. Not all bacteria is bad for you. Probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your intestines which then go on to help digest food. Probiotics are also great preventers of bacterial illness because they introduce the body to possible foreign invaders, prepping the immune system for similar looking microbes. Oikos, Fage and Chobani are natural brands of Greek yogurt that exclude any sugary fillers.
THE BRAT DIET
Suppose you can’t get anything down; you try to eat the foods your normally eat, but no matter how hard you try, they just come right back up again. If this is your problem, try out the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Each of the four components of the diet is bland and easy on the stomach. However, BRAT should be used primarily as a starting point because the diet lacks the proteins and fats essential for the healing process.
Who doesn’t love avocado? This super-hyped power food packs a major nourishing punch. Avocados are chock full of fiber, vitamins and oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat that quells inflammation. They are also soft and easy to digest. Mash an avocado with some lemon juice and smear it on top of your favorite kind of bread to make the sick man’s avocado toast, full of crucial carbohydrates and fats. Add a soft boiled egg for bonus points.
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
When in doubt, chicken noodle soup. Your grandma was on to something when she made you soup when you were sick as a child. Chicken noodle soup has proven time and time again to be an excellent treatment for colds. The food is easily digestible, filled with a plethora of nourishing ingredients and restores hydration. Look for options with low sodium because too much salt will nullify the hydrating effects of the chicken broth.
Being sick in college is never fun, especially when it gets in the way of your responsibilities. Eating is one piece of the recovery puzzle. Be sure to go to the doctor, let yourself rest and practice other forms of self care and you should be on your way to recovery in no time!