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When you are sick, especially with a cold or flu, it is very essential that you stick to a healthy diet. Sometimes, food can be real turn off while you are battling cold, the right food choices can offer a big relief by strengthening the immune system and speeding up recovery. When we catch a cold or flu, we often turn towards over-the-counter medicines or home remedies to revive our immunity. Kadha or warm milk are cases in point. But this practice of consuming milk or dairy products during a bout cold and cough, is surrounded by speculation that it can make your symptoms worse. Is it true? Come, let’s find out.
To understand whether dairy product consumption can make your flu symptoms worse or not, HealthShots spoke to Dr Hari Lakshmi, Consultant Dietitian, and Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Chennai.
According to Dr Lakshmi, though it is a common belief that milk and other dairy products increase the production of mucus or phlegm when you have a cold, there is no scientific evidence to back this up.
Phlegm is the sticky and thick mucus you get when you are suffering from a cold. It tends to drip down the back of your throat. It may feel disgusting and uncomfortable to have this mucus, but it has a purpose. The mucus traps the foreign invader causing the illness, and it gets expelled when you cough up the phlegm or blow your nose.
But too much of the phlegm is very unpleasant and uncomfortable and there is a misconception that drinking milk increases the secretion of the phlegm. But this isn’t true, adds Dr Lakshmi.
Also, read: You should NEVER have milk with these 5 foods
Dr Lakshmi explained that milk coats the mucus or phlegm, making it feel thicker. That is why you may feel your cold may become worse when you drink milk or consume dairy products like curd. However, the production of phlegm does not increase because of dairy.
You can consume milk, curd, or any other dairy products, even if you have a cold. But it is advisable to have them at room temperature. In fact, warm milk with turmeric can help open up your stuffed throat. But you need to avoid ice cream and any other cold dairy products as they can irritate your throat and stomach. Also, avoid dairy products if you’re allergic to them.
The best treatment for a cold and cough is to stay hydrated with warm fluids. Foods like vegetable broth, soups, herbal teas, etc help in preventing dehydration and relieve congestion and help soothe your throat. Eat food rich in nutrients containing green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Dr Lakshmi said you should avoid salty food items, caffeinated drinks like coffee and soft drinks as these tend to dehydrate you. Also avoid junk food, sugary items, simple carbs, pickled food, and alcohol.
Remember to rest, hydrate and gargle with salt water as these simple steps will help you relieve your symptoms.