5 Foods to Avoid When You Have a Cold or the Flu

When feeling the symptoms of a cold or flu, many of us reach for the foods and drinks to bring some comfort and relief. Perhaps a refreshing glass of orange juice or a bowl of chicken soup are your go-to options.

Whatever you choose, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are also several foods to avoid as they can delay recovery times and make cold and flu symptoms worse.

Here are 5 foods to avoid when you have a cold or flu:


  • Dairy products like milk, cream, and cheese

    Although foods like porridge, ice-cream and yoghurt can feel soothing, they may not help your cold and flu symptoms. This is because these dairy products are mucus-producing foods, so if you are suffering from congested nose and sinus problems, they can make it worse.


  • Spicy foods like chilli peppers and jalapenos

There is a common belief is that spicy foods can make you sweat out the toxins. While sweating can be good to help the body detox, unfortunately, it doesn’t help with viruses. Chilli and other spicy foods can have anti-inflammatory properties, but they also make the nose and eyes runny.


  • Sweetened foods and drinks

    Do you automatically reach for a glass of orange juice or Gatorade when you are feeling symptoms of a cold or flu? Unfortunately, these drinks are high in sugar. Even though they are refreshing and may contain vitamins, the sugar in them can cause inflammation, suppress your immune system, and delay the recovery process.


  • Alcohol

    Just like sugar, alcohol causes inflammation and makes it harder for it to recover from a cold or flu. Plus, it can leave you more dehydrated so your body will have to work harder to flush out toxins and regenerate your cells. Alcohol may also slow down the body’s internal reactions and lower immune system. Furthermore, it can be dangerous to mix alcohol with some over-the-counter cold and flu medications.


  • Refined carbohydrates

These types of carbohydrates are found in things like white pasta, white bread, cakes, instant noodles, and cereals. Refined carbs are unhelpful for cold and flu symptoms because they are broken down into sugar by the body. Though they feel like great comfort foods at times, once they are digested, their high sugar content hinders our ability to fight viruses.


Here are some of the best foods to help relieve symptoms of a cold or the flu:

  • Lemon – Aside from being rich in vitamin C, lemon can also help to reduce phlegm and congestion.
  • Garlic – This is best used as a preventative or taken raw when the first signs of a cold appear.
  • Honey – Its soothing and antimicrobial properties, make honey a popular cold remedy often taken with lemon.
  • Echinacea – This powerful herb is an immunomodulator, so it activates the immune cells and may speed up recovery.
  • Olive leaf – As a natural antiviral and antimicrobial, olive leaf extract provides solid defense and fast relief from colds and flu.
  • Ginger – Raw ginger is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant making it great for sore throats and coughs.
  • Bone broth – Packed with immune-boosting minerals and amino acids, bone broth helps build your strength after fighting the virus.


So, if you start feeling signs of those common winter viruses, remember these natural remedies to relieve the symptoms. And don’t forget the foods to avoid when you have a cold or flu if you want to aid a faster recovery.

Learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu on our blog.


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