When you are sick, usually the people closest to you will suggest eating something like chicken soup or fruit.
However, according to experts, food consumption when sick can be adjusted to your condition. The following is the advice of a number of experts, quoted from various sources.
1. When You Have Diarrhea
For diarrhea caused by viruses or foods you don't like, try bland foods, suggests James Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at St. John's Hospital. Joseph in Orange, California.
"A lot of things can cause diarrhea, such as Crohn's disease or colitis," so see a doctor if symptoms persist for more than two weeks or less, if signs of dehydration appear, or if the diarrhea is accompanied by fever, blood, severe pain, or nausea and severe vomiting.
Best foods: Eat bland foods like bananas, rice, or toast. Also, oatmeal, baked potatoes, pretzels, and skinless roasted chicken or turkey. Eat vegetables like carrots and green beans, but make sure to cook them first.
Worst foods: Candy, chewing gum, and other products that contain sorbitol or other sugar alcohols can trigger diarrhea in some people. Foods that cause gas and bloating include bell peppers, peas, broccoli, corn and beans. Milk, alcohol, caffeine, oily and fried foods can also exacerbate diarrhea.
2. When You're Constipated
Factors such as medications, lack of exercise, and not eating enough fiber-rich grains, fruits, and vegetables can all contribute to constipation. "Adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day," says Dr. Lee.
Best foods: High-fiber whole-grain bread, nuts, chickpeas, prunes, oatmeal, flaxseed, broccoli, pears and apples. Drinking six to eight glasses of water daily also helps get things moving, says Dr. Lee.
Worst foods: Sugary candies, dairy products, iron supplements, high-fat meats, and processed foods can make constipation worse.
3. When you have a stomach ache
Feeling nauseous makes all foods sound unappealing, but the right foods can relieve symptoms by calming stomach acids, says Dr. Lee. "In general, keep portion sizes to a minimum," adds Dr. Lee.
Best food: Small amounts of dry bread or cereal. You can also eat noodles or clear soup.
Worst foods: Oily, spicy, salty, or processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks can make nausea worse.
4. When You Have a Sore Throat
Certain foods can coat your throat and soothe the pain when you have a sore throat, says Lauren Slayton, RD, founder of Foodtrainers.com.
Best foods: Keep your throat moist with lozenges and drink plenty of fluids. Soft, bland foods such as cream soup, mashed potatoes, yogurt, eggs, and custard may be more tolerable for eating with a sore throat.
Worst food: Avoid hard, scratchy foods like potato chips, nuts, and granola. The acidic juices of many fruits and vegetables, as well as orange juice, grape juice, and lemonade, can also irritate a sore throat.
5. When the Whole Body Feels Pain
Foods that relieve sore muscles depend on the specific cause of the body ache, says Kristine Arthur, MD, an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
"For general muscle pain, foods containing magnesium or calcium can help relieve pain," says Dr. Arthur.
Best foods: Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and whole grains. Meanwhile, foods high in calcium include salmon, yogurt, green vegetables, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
Worst food: Anything that dehydrates you can make sore muscles worse, says Dr. Arthur, especially alcohol and caffeine.
6. When You Have a Severe Headache
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of headaches, says Dr. Arthur, so it's best to treat the cause first and see if your pain gets any less.
Best food: Water and other liquids are your best bet. "Drink a bottle of water and wait 20 minutes to see if you feel better," says Dr. Arthur. Caffeine is known to dry you out, but ironically, small doses can sometimes help relieve migraines in some people.
"But for every cup of tea or coffee, drink the same amount of water to avoid dehydration," says Dr. Arthur.
Worst food: People who experience daily headaches are advised to avoid caffeine. While more research is needed, other foods that are believed to trigger headaches include artificial sweeteners, MSG (found in sauces and soy sauce), cheese and processed meats.
MSG is metabolized to glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, says Dr. Arthur. Tyramine links with increased blood pressure, which may trigger headaches.
7. When Your Ears Hurt
Earaches are usually accompanied by other symptoms, says Dr. Arthur. "So they don't correlate with food in general." As it is common with upper respiratory tract infections, earaches may also benefit from food.
Best foods: Clear liquids like chicken soup can relieve a stuffy nose by loosening the mucus in the nasal passages. The omega-3s in salmon and nuts reduce inflammation, and the vitamin C in dark green vegetables, berries, and oranges boosts the immune system, says Dr. Arthur.
Worst food: Some people find that dairy products can make phlegm taste thicker, with the exception of yogurt, which contains probiotics, says Dr. Arthur. "Also stay away from processed and packaged foods, which increase inflammation and prolong the recovery process."
8. When You Feel Itchy
Dr. Arthur suggests keeping a detailed food journal for possible triggers.
Best foods: Foods containing Omega-3s such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines), walnut and flaxseed oils, and foods high in protein, are all important for healthy skin, says Dr. Arthur.
Worst foods: The most common foods that cause itching are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, berries, soy, oats, and milk, says Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
9. When your nose is runny/runny
When you catch a cold, the worst symptom is runny nose/snot that won't stop flowing. In addition to taking a steamy bath, Slayton suggests drinking hot tea—it may not slow down the drip, but a relaxing tea can help you feel a little better.
Best food: Try ginger tea, suggests Slayton. Ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve a cold faster than waiting. Cider and lemon in water also work well, adds Slayton.
Worst foods: Spicy foods can instantly cause a cold, as can alcohol.
10. When Your Nose Is Stuffed
A cold, flu, or sinus infection can irritate and inflame the blood vessels of the nose, making breathing difficult. In addition to inhaling the steam from a hot shower or using moisturizer, if you're quitting smoking, a few foods can help.
Best foods: Slayton recommends "golden milk," which contains turmeric, a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Worst foods: Skip spicy foods and sugar, which can exacerbate symptoms, says Slayton.