5 foods that are actually making your cough and cold worse

Once you catch a cold, you are quite likely to stock up on soups, decongestants, etc to deal with the symptoms. But what about things you shouldn’t do?

Myupchar February 13, 2020 14:57:27 IST
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5 foods that are actually making your cough and cold worse

It doesn’t matter if it’s happening because you have bronchitis, a viral infection which you got from a colleague, or because you decided to step out with your hair wet on a cold day. Coughing up phlegm when you have a bad bout of the common cold has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

Once you do get the cold though, you are quite likely to stock up on soups, decongestants, etc to deal with the symptoms. But what about things you shouldn’t do? Those are quite important too since certain things you eat or drink can make your condition worse.

5 foods that are actually making your cough and cold worse

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

For example, you might assume that getting over-the-counter antibiotics to treat your cold is a good idea, but you’d be wrong. According to The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections like bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics, which only work against bacterial infections, are ineffective in curing them. 

In fact, using antibiotics to treat the common cold might have adverse effects. And so can the following foods which you should avoid if you want that cough and cold to get any better. 

1. Sugar

You might crave a sugary tea or something sweet when you’re down with a cold - what would you do without some comforts when you’re sick after all? But sugar consumption is a sure-shot way of making your cough worse. As per a study published in Frontiers in Immunology in 2017, increased sugar intake can suppress the immune system, especially when fighting viral infections. This applies to the common cold too, so make sure you stay away from those desserts. 

2. Alcohol

A tipple of rum with honey and water would only soothe your congested chest, right? Wrong! Alcohol consumption, according to a study in the journal Alcohol in 2007, is linked to an increase in lung and bronchial inflammation. Alcohol also suppresses the white blood cells in your blood, which you need to fight the cold. What’s more, alcohol dehydrates you, and what you need most when you have a cold is increased intake of fluids.

3. Caffeinated drinks

As mentioned before, your body needs more fluids to keep you hydrated when you have a cold. Coffee, tea and caffeinated drinks act as diuretics, i.e. they increase the expelling of water and salt from your body. So clearly, having your regular three-four cups of cappuccino or latte is not a good idea when you have the sniffles.

4. Milk

You might have been told to go off milk and dairy products when you have a cold because these products create more phlegm and that’s clearly going to make things worse. However, studies have found that milk, instead of producing more phlegm in the body actually makes the existing mucus thicker and more difficult to get rid of. Either way, it’s best to stay away from milk when you have a cold.

5. Spicy food

So you must have heard that having spicy food when you have a cough and cold is great because it thins out the mucus and makes it easier to expel. This is quite true, and what’s more, the capsaicin in chillies also has a desensitizing effect and helps manage inflammation. However, as a study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in 2016 reveals, capsaicin also stimulates the production of more phlegm. Eating that spicy curry might relieve your symptoms for a few minutes, but it’s going to make things worse in the long run and delay your recovery.

For more information, read our article on Common Cold: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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