How to Stay Hydrated When You're Sick

Drinking tea or hot water with ginger can help soothe your stomach. . (Photo: Vadiar/Shutterstock)

The flu has been going around with a vengeance the last couple of weeks, and I became one of its victims soon after Christmas. Generally I am able to ward off colds and the flu with essential oils and other supplements, but I didn’t catch the warning signs early enough. I thought I was just tired, so I went to take a nap. By the time I woke up, I was feeling so sick that the thought of taking essential oils or swallowing a pill was out of the question.

While preventing the flu is always the first line of defense, if you catch it despite your best efforts, staying hydrated is very important. I know that many health care providers also recommend that you drink a lot regardless of your symptoms because it can help flush out your system (and dehydration is a problem if you aren’t drinking enough anyways).

My mother used to buy us crackers and 7-Up when we had the flu, and the crackers were gentle on the tummy while the fizzy sweet drink helped settle the stomach. But I try to avoid all soda pop now and have to eat a gluten-free diet as well. I haven’t had soda in so long, it is unlikely that it would even appeal to me. Thankfully, I have found some more nourishing options. Here is what I like to eat and drink when recovering from the flu. (And please note, it goes without saying that when you're sick, you should always talk to your health care provider and follow their recommendations).

Fermented drinks

For the bubbly, slightly sweet drink (in place of the soda pop), I now turn to kombucha and other fermented drinks such as homemade coconut water kefir. Not only is this drink sparkly and sweet, it is possible that the probiotics in these drinks could help calm an upset digestive system too.

Homemade chicken broth

One of the first things I had when I was recovering was homemade chicken broth from chicken noodle soup that my husband made. Wow that went down well! When my husband makes soup (which is generally because I am sick and unable to make it myself), he uses a recipe, where you can literally just dump rough chopped vegetables, and chicken drumsticks into a pot, cover with water and add some bay leaves and salt, and an hour to an hour and a half later, you can cook some noodles and you are done. I was sick for two days, and my husband made this twice and I was so thankful for it! Homemade chicken broth is full of minerals and it is soothing and hydrating too (and using unrefined salt to salt the broth well is important for your electrolyte balance).

Sparkling water (with lemon)

I also like plain sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon juice. For some reason I can never drink plain water when sick, so this helps me get a lot more liquid down.

Coconut water

Coconut water is a perfectly hydrating drink that helps balance out-of-wack electrolytes. It truthfully doesn’t appeal to me as much unless it is fermented a bit, but that is just because I like my drinks a little sour.

What's so great about coconut water?
Coconut water is a natural source for electrolytes and antioxidants. (Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

Ice chips

If you are throwing up a lot, it can be difficult to keep down anything, but at least sucking on some ice chips will help. Some people also find it helpful to sprinkle a bit of raw apple cider vinegar or kombucha on the ice cubes. It sounds weird, but it can help calm the tummy faster.

Gentle teas

As I was recovering, I also found mint tea with a bit of honey appealing. Mint can help settle the stomach. Other options are to steep a little grated fresh ginger because it can help calm an upset stomach.

If you are throwing up a lot, you should definitely keep in contact with a doctor, as you want to watch for signs of dehydration. But thankfully most of us recover fine at home, and staying well hydrated well help speed recovery time.