Foods To Avoid During A Cold Or Flu

Even the most descriptive adjectives cannot express the terrible, pathetic and disgusting feeling we experience when we suffer from a cold and flu. Appetite is lost, body aches all over and the head is just about to explode. You’d give anything to escape this feeling of sickness and you’re even willing to try home remedies your grandma recommended. Avoiding certain types of food can ease the condition. And that’s exactly what we are talking about here. Stay away from these foods and you’ll do yourself a world of good and recover sooner.

1. Fast Food And Processed Foods

Forget illness, even when you’re healthy these foods are not good for you. So, when you are down with a cold and flu, you better stay away from fast foods and processed snacks. These foods contain less of nutrients and more of preservatives. They hardly help boost your immunity and mostly hinder recovery. They contain genetically modified products like monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and many other immune-inhibiting ingredients. None of these can help alleviate the suffering nor do they cure a cold and flu.


2. Alcohol

Many people consider drinking a shot of brandy to ease a cold. It may warm your throat and provide temporary relief, but in reality, alcohol only weakens the immune system and dehydrates the body. Dehydration and a weakened immune system further deteriorate the condition and you may end up feeling worse instead of better. Alcohol consumption can modulate the immune response and influence the risk of developing a common cold. However, red wine, which is rich in flavonoids, may have a protective effect against the common cold. Moderate consumption of wine, but not of other alcoholic beverages, may reduce the occurrence of com the on cold.1

3. Oily Foods

Foods that contain excess fats and those that are oily must be avoided. Deep fried and fatty foods can cause inflammation in the stomach and leave you with an upset stomach. Greasy foods and foods high in fat can adversely impact the immune system and delay recovery. Fried chicken, French fries, or any other deep fried foods must be avoided.


4. Dairy Products

Don’t be surprised to see dairy products on this list. Low-fat dairy products may be alright to consume. But, those with high-fat content must be avoided. In fact, a glass of hot milk mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder can cure a common cold. However, since most dairy products contain high levels of fat and can increase mucus production, you could avoid them altogether.

5. High-Sugar Foods

Refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives are common ingredients in packaged juices, donuts, candies, or other high-sugar foods. Sugar interferes with the body’s mechanism to fight the bacteria that causes cold and flu. Consuming a high-sugar diet prevents the body from combating congestion and this leads to more phlegm accumulation. Sugar increases congestion, reduces the ability of white blood cells to fight illness and provides a conducive environment for the bacteria to thrive. If you must drink fruit juices, make them yourself at home, but don’t add sugar. If you must add something sweet, consider honey or maple syrup, which contains many beneficial minerals.


6. Meat And Meat Products

Meat and meat products are something to be avoided, at least temporarily until the bout of cold and flu has passed. Meat products take longer to digest and your digestive system must work overtime to completely assimilate them. Sticking to vegetarian foods during this time enables your body to recover faster and fight the illness more efficiently. Animal fats impede the body’s power to eliminate the bacteria and virus that cause illness. This results in you experiencing prolonged sickness. Many vegetarian foods contain antioxidants that help tackle the bacteria and promotes recovery.

7. Cold Foods And Drinks

A cup of warm or hot drink can help relieve symptoms of cold or flu because the steam from the drink opens up nasal passages. Drinking anything cold can cause a sore throat or aggravate a sore throat. As per Ayurveda, drinking cold water is not recommended as it slows down the digestion process.2 When you are down with a cold and flu, the most important thing is to keep yourself as warm as possible by wearing warm clothes, eating warm food, and avoiding anything cold. Warm foods increase the body’s internal temperature. Eating or drinking cold foods decreases the body temperature and the body exerts itself to increase the internal temperature all over again. This also slows down the recovery process and prolongs the flu and cold. According to Ayurveda, cold foods can aggravate all three doshas – vaata, pitta, and kapha.3 So, the best thing to do is to consume warm soups, tea, and other foods that don’t freeze your insides. Cold foods can wait.


When you are down with cold and flu, avoid the foods mentioned here and instead consume vegetarian foods that improve your immune system. Keep the body well hydrated and drink tea and hot soups to ease the symptoms. Knowing what foods to consume and what to avoid can determine the duration of the illness. Understand your body and help it to fight off the illness.