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5 Foods You Should Definitely Avoid When Sick

Genexa Genexa 2018-09-21 12:59:00 -0700


When you’re sick, you’ll do anything just to feel better again. And sometimes you just want to indulge in a comfort food for some short-lived relief. But before you do, make sure you know which comfort foods are going to actually make you feel worse – and maybe even lengthen your sickness!

1. Dairy

Okay, okay, we know: this one is obvious. Everyone seems to “know” that you shouldn’t drink milk or consumer dairy products when sick, due to various reasons from increasing mucus production to irritating your digestive tract. However, there’s actually little proof that dairy actually does cause mucus production universally and those who experience digestive irritation likely have a general lactose intolerance beyond being sick. Though, because a small group of people still experience discomfort and issues[1] when consuming dairy while sick (especially those with asthma), it may be best to avoid it just in case.

2. Coffee and Alcohol

It’s hard to survive without your morning coffee, especially when groggy after a fitful night of sleeping while sick. But coffee and alcohol should both be avoided for the same reasons: they dehydrate your body, and then your body has to work harder to flush out the infection. Instead, switch to water and herbal teas to help cleanse your body of the sickness. 

3. Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation[2], and artificial sweeteners have been shown to worsen headaches[3] - and sorbitol in specific can aggravate diarrhea symptoms[4]. Best avoid high-sugar foods or artificially sweetened snacks, drinks, and medicines. Yes, you read that right! Most medicines include artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, so double-check your medicine’s ingredients before you take it. 

4. Fatty Foods

Excess fats also weaken the immune system and can lead to a greater risk of infection[5]. While some fats are good for you (like those found in avocados!) avoid unnecessary and unhealthy fats like those found in fast foods.

5. Nothing

Even though you often don’t feel like eating as much when you’re sick as when you’re well, it’s very important to eat when sick because your metabolism is actually higher[6]! Your body is working hard to fight off an infection, whether viral or bacterial, and needs the extra calories from food to do that. When you have a fever, it’s even more important to eat: “For every degree your body temperature is elevated, your metabolic rate is stimulated (or elevated) by seven percent," explains Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., RD, director of nutrition research at Miami Research Associates[7].    

Now that you know what foods could hinder your path to wellness, go forth and make an educated decision about whether that coffee ice cream cake is definitely the right thing to eat while fighting the flu (hint: probably not)! And when you’re not feeling great no matter what you eat, Genexa is here with a line of healthier cold and flu products for adults and children.



[1] Medical Hypotheses, April 2010. Bartley J, McGlashan SR.

[2] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2002. Multiple authors.

[3] Magnesium Research, December 2006. Multiple authors.


[5] University of Gothenburg via Medical XPress

[6] Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. Multiple authors.

[7] Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., RD.


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