Winter is officially cold and flu season and the number of infections being experienced across Spain right now is increasing rapidly. This has led to concerns in the country because those suffering from severe flu place extra pressure on the Spanish healthcare system particularly emergency departments.
If you develop a cold or flu virus then the best way to avoid the need for emergency treatment is to look after yourself. You can do this by staying inside, staying warm, and by reducing the risk of excess mucus build up. This is a vital but often overlooked aspect of cold and flu care that can make a real difference in the length and severity of your illness. And your diet is the number one way that you can control this mucus production.
Do you have a cold or flu virus right now? Then here are 7 foods you shouldn’t eat.
1. Dairy Products
This umbrella term includes any food stuff that contains daily including but not limited to milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter and ice cream. The reasons that dairy products should be avoided if you have a cold or flu is that the lactose contained in dairy can be hard for many of is to digest. Dairy products can also increase mucus production anecdotally. While there is s no scientific evidence that clearly supports this equation we do know that if there is a significant presence of dairy products in our diet, they will increase the consistency of the mucus that we produce. Thicker and more viscose mucus is more difficult to expel and this means that any nasal or bronchial congestion you are experiencing as a result of your cough or cold will last longer.
2. Red Meat
If you are a meat eater then when you have a cold or flu this might be a good time to remove the red meat from your diet. This is because we do know that red meat can significantly affect mucus production. That doesn't mean red meat is always bad for you: the protein it contains increases the metabolism and is important for muscle building but the benefits are outweighed by the risk when you have a cold or flu. Too much red meat can lead to an accumulation of mucus in the throat that could slow your recovery.
Excess sugar in both food and drinks is bad for your long term health in general. But it can be particularly dangerous if you have a cold or flu virus that is impacting your sinuses. Foods that contain refined sugars, such as sweets, chocolate, and baked goods, can cause your body to become inflamed and produce excess mucus, blocking your sinuses and prolonging your illness.
4. Processed Foods
Like sugar we already know that processed foods aren’t the best choice for our health. But they can be especially problematic if you have a cold or flu. The preservatives and thickeners included in processed foods can disturb the balance in your gut and contribute to problems such as inflammatory reactions or intestinal diseases. When your inflamation markers are higher your mucus production increases which is bad news if you have a cold or flu.
You should never consume alcohol when you have a cold, flu, or any other virus. Alcohol acts as a diuretic which can cause dehydration and make it harder for phlegm to drain effectively. Alcohol consumption also weakens the esophageal sphincters, causing irritation and heightened phlegm production.
6. Any Foods That Trigger Reflux
Reflux, also known as GERD, can result in increased mucus production. As a result you should avoid any foods that might trigger reflux when you have a cold or flu. This includes food such as friend food, tomatoes, chilis, citrus fruits, any fatty meats such as bacon, and peppermint.
7. Any Foods Containing Histamine
Anyone who suffers from hayfever or allergies will know that foods that cause your body to release histamine will increase your mucus production. This may not affect everyone but if you have histamine sensitivity or intolerance you should certainly avoid any foods with histamine when you have a cold or flu. Histamine rich foods include processed meats, mayonnaise, dairy, some types of fish, spinach, citrus fruits, strawberries, grapes, bananas and tomatoes.
Why Is Avoiding Excess Mucus So Important?
Mucus is also sometimes referred to as phlegm and it is something that is naturally present in our respiratory track but which we produce in excess when we have a cold or flu. When the body is facing a viral attack the lungs produce a thicker mucus secretion and coughing serves as the body's mechanism for expelling it.
As well as avoiding all of the foods mentioned above you should also try to thin the mucus you are producing so that it’s easier to expel. You can do this by drinking water or unsweetened natural juices.
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