Is Dairy Bad For A Cold?

  • 1 month ago
4 minute read.
Is Dairy Bad For A Cold?

When you have a cold, you might get a lot of advice from friends and family. One common tip is to avoid dairy products. People often say that dairy increases mucus production and makes cold symptoms worse. But is this true? Is dairy bad for a cold, or is it just a myth?

Understanding the effects of dairy on cold symptoms requires a closer look at the body's response to dairy products and the common cold. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are in many diets. They provide essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein. These nutrients help keep your body strong and support your immune system, which is especially important when you're sick.

A cold is caused by viruses that make your body produce mucus to trap and get rid of the germs. It leads to symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, and coughing. Because of this, many people think that eating or drinking dairy, which they believe makes more mucus, will make their symptoms worse.

In this blog, we will look at what science says about dairy and colds. We will also talk about the benefits of dairy when you are sick and give you tips on how to manage your diet during a cold.

What is Mucus?

Before addressing the dairy debate, it’s crucial to understand what mucus is and its role in the body. Mucus is a slippery, gel-like substance produced by mucous membranes located in various parts of the body, including the respiratory  tract, digestive tract, and reproductive system. It is primarily composed of water, proteins (such as mucin), enzymes, and salts.

Functions of Mucus

  • Protection: Mucus acts as a barrier, trapping dust, microbes, and other foreign particles, preventing them from entering the body and causing infections.
  • Moisturization: It keeps the underlying tissues moist, preventing them from drying out and becoming irritated.
  • Immune Defense: Mucus contains antibodies and enzymes that help neutralize pathogens, contributing to the body’s immune defense mechanisms.
  • Lubrication: In the digestive system, mucus facilitates the smooth passage of food and waste.

When you have a cold, the body ramps up mucus production to trap and expel the virus, which can lead to symptoms like a runny nose and congestion.

What the Research Says?

Several studies have examined the connection between dairy intake and mucus production:

  • Asthma and Milk: The effect of drinking milk among people with asthma and found that drinking milk did not increase mucus production or worsen symptoms.
  • Placebo Effect: A study published in the American Review of Respiratory Disease explored whether the belief in dairy's mucus-producing effects could influence people's perceptions. Participants who were given a placebo (a non-dairy drink they believed contained dairy) reported similar sensations of thicker mucus, highlighting the power of belief and perception.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Dairy products are rich in essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein. These nutrients can support overall health and potentially aid recovery during illness.

Dairy and Cold Symptoms

While the evidence shows that dairy does not increase mucus production, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether to consume dairy during a cold:

  • Comfort and Preference: Some people may find that dairy products soothe their throats and provide comfort. Warm milk with honey, for example, can be a comforting drink when you're feeling under the weather.
  • Lactose Intolerance: If you're lactose intolerant, consuming dairy can lead to digestive discomfort, which may exacerbate feelings of illness. In this case, it’s best to avoid dairy and opt for lactose-free alternatives.
  • Hydration: When you have a cold, it's crucial to stay hydrated. Dairy products, particularly milk, can contribute to fluid intake, though water, herbal teas, and broths are more effective at maintaining hydration.

Also Check: How To Make Natural Cold And Flu Remedies At Home

Practical Tips

If  you're unsure about consuming dairy when you have a cold, here are a few practical tips:

  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to dairy. If you notice discomfort or increased congestion, it might be best to avoid it until you feel better.
  • Moderation: Consuming dairy in moderation is generally safe for most people. Try incorporating small amounts of dairy in ways that feel soothing, such as adding a splash of milk to your tea.
  • Alternative Sources: If you decide to avoid dairy, ensure you get essential nutrients from other sources. Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and fortified plant-based milks can provide calcium and vitamin D.

Also Read: Surprising Facts You didn't know about Cold and Flu

Diet Plan


The belief that dairy worsens cold symptoms by increasing mucus production is a myth. Scientific research shows no significant link between dairy consumption and increased mucus. However, individual reactions to dairy can vary, so it's essential to listen to your body and choose foods that make you feel comfortable during a cold.

Ultimately, the key to recovering from a cold lies in rest, hydration, and a balanced diet. Whether you choose to include dairy in that diet is up to you, but rest assured, there’s no need to strictly avoid it based on outdated beliefs.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Register on The Wellness Corner

Recently Published