Foods and drinks to avoid during colds and coughs

It makes little difference whether it happens as a result of bronchitis, a viral infection you picked up from a co-worker, or your decision to wear your hair wet outside on a cold day. The cough producing phlegm when you have a severe case of a cold has no redeeming aspect.


What would you do without a little comfort when you’re sick, after all? You might crave a sweet tea or something sweet when you have a cold. Consuming sugar, however, is a surefire way to make your cough worse. Increased sugar intake can weaken the immune system, especially when fighting viral infections, according to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Immunology. Keep in mind that this also applies to the typical cold, so avoid eating these sweets.


Your stuffy chest would only be relieved by a sip of rum mixed with honey and water, right? Bad! A 2007 study published in the journal Alcohol found a correlation between alcohol consumption and increased bronchial and pulmonary inflammation. The white blood cells in your blood, which you need to fight off colds, are also suppressed by alcohol. Also, alcohol dehydrates you and when you have a cold you need to drink extra fluids.


Caffeinated drinks

As stated earlier, when you have a cold your body needs more fluids to keep you hydrated. Like diuretics, coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages increase the excretion of water and salt from the body. It is therefore obvious that drinking your usual three to four cups of coffee or cappuccino while being contagious is not a good idea.


When you have a cold, you may have been advised to avoid milk and dairy products as they increase the production of phlegm, which will undoubtedly make things worse. However, research has shown that milk makes the mucus already in the body thicker and harder to break down rather than increasing the amount of phlegm it produces. It is advisable to avoid milk while you have a cold in any case.

spicy food

You’ve probably heard that eating spicy foods helps thin mucus and makes it easier to expel during a cough or cold. This is indeed true, as the capsaicin in chili peppers also has a desensitizing effect and helps in the management of inflammation. However, capsaicin also promotes the formation of more phlegm, as shown in a 2016 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Eating this hot curry might temporarily relieve your symptoms, but it will eventually make it worse and prolong your recovery.

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