Learn the Reality of Adding Immune-Boosting Foods to a Diet

Myth: You Should Not Consume Dairy When You Are Sick This myth claims that dairy increases mucus production, and excessive mucus can clog the airways and… Trista - August 10, 2020
Have you ever had a glass of milk when your stomach was upset? Shutterstock

Myth: You Should Not Consume Dairy When You Are Sick

This myth claims that dairy increases mucus production, and excessive mucus can clog the airways and harbor pathogens. While there is some truth to this claim, it is more myth than fact. There is simply no evidence to corroborate it.

Singers, public speakers, and others who rely heavily on a well-functioning throat may avoid dairy before an important event. However, they do not do so because they are trying to improve their bodies’ immune responses. They are trying to prevent a mucus build-up in their throats so that their voices are clearer.

Drinking dairy can help soothe your throat thanks to an extra layer of mucus. Shutterstock

Fact: Dairy Provides Necessary Proteins For Recovering

Dairy can cause extra mucus to line the throat, but it also provides nutrients that can help recover from illness. Amino acids, found in proteins, are an important part of immune health, and dairy has high protein levels.

Many dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is critical for just about everything that the body does, including supporting its immune response and aiding in the recovery from illness. But if your experience is that dairy weighs you down, then go on and avoid it.

Most people view a glass of orange juice as a breakfast drink and a go-to beverage at the first sign of sickness. Shutterstock

Myth: You Should Drink Juice When You Are Sick

When you start to feel the sniffles, your first impulse may be to pour yourself a glass of orange juice. However, you should be aware that orange juice is very high in sugar – it has more sugar, ounce for ounce, than soda – and doesn’t have the fiber that helps slow down the absorption of that sugar.

In other words, drinking orange juice can give you a sugar high, and sugar is the opposite of what you need to recover! The cells in your body can mistake sugar for vitamin C and accidentally bring the wrong molecule in. Drinking orange juice can make your flu worse. If all you can get down is a glass of juice, then sure, drink some juice. But don’t believe the myth that juice is beneficial.

Eating whole fruits are always better than juicing them. Shutterstock

Fact: Whole Fruit Has Many More Nutrients

Before oranges are juiced, they have fiber that helps slow down the absorption of sugar. So while you may be able to down three or four glasses of orange juice without noticing how much you have consumed, eating two or three oranges will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Many nutrients are lost in the process of making fruit juice, not just the fiber. If you are a fan of juice and want to strengthen your body’s immune response, consider using a home juicer to juice your fruits, mixed with vegetables. Composting the leftover pulp and using it in a vegetable garden can boost your home-grown veggies’ nutrient content.

If you drink coffee, it is probably hard to say no when you are feeling under the weather. Shutterstock

Myth: You Should Avoid Coffee And Tea When Sick

Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks are diuretics, meaning that they cause you to have to urinate. Some people claim that drinking coffee makes them urinate more than the amount that they drank, a problem that can lead to dehydration if one consumes excessive amounts of coffee.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid coffee and tea when you are sick (however, you should prevent artificially caffeinated drinks, like soda). Coffee lovers and tea drinkers can rest happily knowing that they do not have to forfeit their favorite beverage to feel better next time they get sick.

Don’t feel build for drinking tea because it has various health benefits. Shutterstock

Fact: Coffee And Tea Have Many Health Benefits

The antioxidants found in coffee and tea far outweigh the temporary side effect of having to urinate more frequently. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume coffee and tea (especially green tea) have improved cardiovascular health, lower rates of cancer, and better cognition (especially among Alzheimer’s patients) than those who do not.

Drinking coffee when you are under the weather is unlikely to make you feel better, beyond it being a comfort food that can provide an emotional boost. Furthermore, if you need extra sleep, you may want to reduce the caffeine. But ultimately, it will do more good than bad.



“9 Myths About Immune-Boosting Foods That Health Experts Want You to Stop Believing,” by Betty Gold. Real Simple. March 30, 2020.

“5 myths about boosting your immunity,” by Susie Burrell. MSN Health. May 29, 2020.

“The 5 biggest myths about immune system boosters,” by Jackie London. Weight Watchers Reimagined.