While it's certainly not life-threatening or anything, I don't know if there is anything more irritating—and sometimes inconvenient—than catching a cold. Yet, try as we might, there's a chance that we'll all come down with one before the year is out. Why is that? The long short of it is, a cold is a virus; one that comes in approximately 200 different varieties. By the way, contrary to what grandma might've said, no, you can't get one from going outside while your head is wet. You actually catch a cold from someone who already has one, either by being in direct contact with them or from touching a surface that they have.
As you probably already know, there isn't a cure for a cold. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the healing process. Staying hydrated will loosen up the congestion. Resting will build up your immune system. Turning on a humidifier will help to remove allergens out of the air. Oh, and there is some truth to feeding a cold as well. Drinking citrus juices will provide you with antioxidants and electrolytes that you might have lost. Also, if you enjoy comfort foods when you're sick (speaking of, have you ever checked out YouTube's Stove Top Kisses before? The host is hil-ar-ious and the recipes are the complete and total bomb!), just make sure that they are high in beta-carotene (like carrots and collards), Vitamin C (like papayas and peppers), Vitamin E (like tangerines and tomatoes) and bioflavonoids like lemons and limes—all of which can be depleted when you're feeling under the weather.
There's one more thing too. Make sure to avoid the following eight foods at all costs. Not just because they can "empower your cold", but because there is solid evidence that they each play a role in making cold viruses last longer than they should (which should be no more than 10 days; if your cold is lingering longer, make an appointment to see your physician as soon as possible). Are you ready to read about what you should keep off of your plate until your cold subsides?
What Not To Eat When You Have A Cold
Dairy is milk. Dairy is cheese. Dairy is cream, butter, yogurt and anything else that is produced from a mammal's milk. If you're anything like me and you thoroughly enjoy most, if not all, of the things on this list, I can totally see why you might struggle with giving dairy up (or, at the very least, consuming these foods less than you currently do). But here's the thing to also keep in mind about it—because our bodies aren't really designed to consume another mammal's milk, if we eat (or drink) a lot of it, it can cause all sorts of health issues. For one thing, dairy is a huge source of saturated fat which can ultimately lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There are even studies that point to the fact that dairy can up your risk for getting lung, breast and ovarian cancer. Also, if clear skin is your goal, less dairy is best. Why? Well, two proteins found in milk are whey and casein. Whenever we take them into our system, they have a tendency to trigger the production of a hormone called IGF-1; that can lead to breakouts.
As far as consuming dairy when you're sick goes, while you might've heard that it can produce more mucus, the actual scientific data suggests that the more accurate problem is dairy can lead to more coughing, if anything. Plus, it can make the mucus that you already have thicker; that can result in allergens remaining in your system longer which can ultimately result in your cold sticking around for a few more days than it actually should.
If anything is a bit of a wild card on this list, it would have to be coffee. I say that because there are about as many "pros" as there are "cons" when it comes to drinking it. On the beneficial side, coffee can reduce post-workout muscle discomfort, lower the risk of depression, cancer and even type 2 diabetes. Plus, it's loaded with fiber and can even protect against cirrhosis of the liver. Some reasons why you should consume java in moderation is it has the ability to increase your stress hormone and homocysteine levels (which can ultimately lead to heart disease), deplete your system of the calcium, magnesium and potassium that your body needs, plus it can be addictive.
If you love coffee so much that you can't imagine ever going without it, try and at least push your cup aside while you're getting over a cold. Because coffee/caffeine is a diuretic, drinking it can prevent your body from getting the fluids that you need in order to fully heal.
3.Fake Meat (Kinda)
I grew up being a Seventh-Day Adventist. Anyone who is (or knows someone who is) knows that MorningStar Farms is a staple in that denomination's diet. If you're unfamiliar with MorningStar, it's basically one of the longest-running "fake meat" brands there is around. While I know that a lot of folks are out here consuming "the un-meat" like there's no tomorrow, it's important to keep in mind that 1) a lot of that stuff contains quite a bit of soy, sodium and preservatives (which isn't a good thing) and 2) some of those foods also are loaded with gluten. Gluten is basically a protein that is found in grains (especially wheat) that's considered by a lot of health professionals to be "irrelevant" because it doesn't really provide any nutrients to your body. On the flip side, what it can do is elevate inflammation in your body (especially if you've got celiac disease).
Since a symptom of having a cold is inflammation in your system, which can result in it being more difficult for mucus to pass through your body, you might want to save that Impossible Burger until after you get to feeling better. Or, at the very least, opt for a gluten-free one instead. Otherwise, you could be "feeding your cold". Just not in a good way.
I'm a bit of a bread girl, so I can get why this might be really hard to give up or why you may want to treat it as a comfort food while you're battling a cold. While a sandwich, a slice of pizza or some French toast on occasion isn't necessarily a bad thing, the rule to apply here is all things must be applied in moderation. No matter how much you might enjoy bread, the reality is that it's got a ton of carbs in it, it lacks micronutrients and, many brands contain gluten. Since carbs pack on pounds and raise blood sugar levels, that should be reason enough to not want to go overboard on bread which includes pasta, fortified cereals, tortillas and even—wait for it—grits.
Since bread has gluten in it and we've already talked about what it can do, that's why you should avoid eating biscuits or burritos until your cold is over. Even then, make sure that you at least go the whole-grain route and you limit your portions as much as possible. Your immunity will thank you for it if you do.
Have you ever noticed that a lobster looks a lot like a cockroach? Yeah, a lot of seafood is considered to be bottom-feeders of the ocean. What this means is it's their job is to clean up filth in the water. If that's not enough of a reason to reconsider eating a lot of seafood, how about the fact that it's high in cholesterol and mercury; it is a common allergen; and, when foods like scallops, clams and oysters are not thoroughly cooked, the harmful bacteria that you can take into your system can be totally off the charts.
If you just read all of that and you're still like "whatever", try and hold off on the shrimp or calamari until you are feeling better. Something else that seafood contains plenty of are histamines (which explains why so many folks are allergic to it). Histamines can definitely elevate the congestion in your system and result in you feeling a lot more uncomfortable, if not flat-out miserable.
You probably already know that eating fried foods on a consistent basis isn't the best thing for your overall health and well-being. Aside from the fact that they can help you to pack on the pounds, since fried foods are also high in trans fats, eating too many of them can lead to health issues like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Another problem with fried foods is the preparation of them can produce a toxic substance known as acrylamide; it's something that can lead to kidney and ovarian cancers.
As if all of this isn't enough of a reason to eat fried chicken and fried mushrooms less often, fried food is something else that can increase inflammation in your body. Also, since they are the kinds of foods that take longer for your body to digest, they can cause you to have an upset stomach. You definitely don't want that when you're dealing with all of the annoying symptoms that come along with having a cold.
First off, were you aware of the fact that another name for avocados is "alligator pear"? The more you know, boy. Anyway, I know you probably want to give me some pushback on this one since there are so many health benefits that come from partaking of this particular fruit. After all, avocados are high in vitamins B6, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber and healthy fats. They also packed with antioxidants that can strengthen your heart. And, thanks to the tryptophan, folate and omega-3s that are in them, avocados can decrease depression-related symptoms too.
So, why are they on this list? It's because they're another food that are packed with histamines. Even if guacamole is a comfort food for you, wait until your sinuses clear up. Otherwise, you could have a big mess of mucus on your hands. Literally.
When it comes to the health benefits of chocolate, it's important to mention that dark chocolate that has at least 60 percent cocoa in it is what you should consume. That said, if you do make it a point to eat that kind, dark chocolate can improve your blood sugar levels, reduce your heart disease risk, strengthen your cognitive function, protect your skin from UV damage and keep free radicals at bay. That's the good news.
The reason why a cup of hot chocolate is not a good idea when you've got a cold is 1) the high saturation of fat that it contains can increase inflammation in your system and 2) the sugar that's in the chocolate can potentially multiply yeast and increase bacteria, especially in your gut where a significant amount of your immune system is located. That's why it's best to go with some hot apple cider, herbal tea or hot water with lemon and honey instead.
Yeah, I know. Some of these foods are probably things that you don't want to do without, especially when you're under the weather. But look at it this way—if you "fast" from them while you're getting over your cold, there's a significant chance that you'll get over it a lot quicker. That way, you'll actually be able to breathe the next time you have some fettucine or a fish sandwich. Now, doesn't that make it worth the wait?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Featured image by Shutterstock