Should you consume dairy products with cold and cough? A nutritionist answers
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 20, 2023
When you’re feeling under the weather, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet. While food might not be very appealing when you’re battling a cold, making the right food choices can provide significant relief by strengthening your immune system and expediting your recovery. When we fall ill with a cold or flu, we often turn to over-the-counter medicines or home remedies to bolster our immunity. Warm milk and herbal concoctions like kadha are popular examples. However, consuming milk or dairy products during a bout of cold and cough has stirred speculation that it can exacerbate symptoms. So, is there any truth to these claims? Let’s find out together.
Consumption of Dairy Products with a Cold and Cough: Myth or Fact?
According to Dr. Hari Lakshmi, a Consultant Dietitian and Nutritionist at Motherhood Hospitals, Chennai, there is a widespread belief that milk and other dairy products increase the production of mucus or phlegm when you have a cold. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
Phlegm is the thick, sticky mucus that accumulates when you’re suffering from a cold. It tends to trickle down the back of your throat. While it may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, phlegm serves a purpose. It traps the foreign invaders causing the illness, and it is expelled when you cough up the phlegm or blow your nose.
There is a misconception that consuming milk leads to an increase in phlegm secretion, resulting in an excessive buildup. But Dr. Lakshmi clarifies that this isn’t true.
How to Consume Milk When You Have a Cold?
You can still enjoy milk, curd, or any other dairy products, even when you have a cold. However, it is advisable to consume them at room temperature. In fact, warm milk with a dash of turmeric can help alleviate a stuffy throat. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid ice cream and other chilled dairy products, as they can irritate your throat and stomach. Furthermore, if you have a dairy allergy, it’s best to steer clear of these products altogether.
What to Eat and What to Avoid with a Cold and Cough?
Staying hydrated with warm fluids is crucial for treating a cold and cough. Foods like vegetable broth, soups, and herbal teas can help prevent dehydration, relieve congestion, and soothe your throat. Including nutrient-rich foods in your diet, such as green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli, is also beneficial.
Dr. Lakshmi advises against consuming salty food items and caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, as they tend to dehydrate the body. Additionally, it’s wise to avoid junk food, sugary items, simple carbs, pickled food, and alcohol.
Remember to prioritize rest, hydration, and gargling with salt water. These simple steps can significantly alleviate your symptoms.
By adhering to these guidelines and making informed dietary choices, you can support your body during a cold and cough episode, assisting in a speedy recovery.