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12 Worst Foods for the Flu and COVID

What do you eat when you’re sick? Here are some of the worst foods for the flu!

If you order a cup of chicken soup the moment you feel some cold symptoms kick in, you’re not alone. While there’s no doubt that certain foods have disease-busting benefits, unfortunately, eating the right things is only one step towards getting better faster.

So, whether you’re under a blanket and dealing with chills and body aches right now or you’re just here to know what to do next time this happens to you, there are a variety of foods and beverages you should avoid when the flu or cold make their entry.

Moreover, COVID is known to affect the immunity system much more than the flu or a common cold, so it’s important to give your body the foods it needs to recover faster, not the ones that make it harder for this to happen.

Even foods that are normally healthy, such as a couple of types of fresh vegetables and some kinds of fish, may not be the best choice when you can’t seem to stop coughing or your nose is running. If you really want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get better fast, here are some of the worst foods for the flu and COVID you should avoid!

Photo by George Rudy from Shutterstock

1. Yogurt

This will surprise you, but yogurt is one of the worst foods for the flu and COVID-19. According to experts, for times when you’re sick and have symptoms like body aches, fatigue, headaches, and a dry cough, you may want to hold off on this healthy breakfast staple.

This is because dairy may thicken or worsen phlegm production in certain people. Phlegm is the mucus that lines our tissues and works as a protective barrier. However, when you’re sick, your body’s mucous production goes into overdrive, so avoiding dairy products may be the best move while you’re dealing with the flu or COVID.

2. Milk

A glass of warm milk with some honey may sound great when you’re feeling under the weather, right? Not exactly.

Similar to yogurt, milk is one of the worst foods for the flu and cold. We’ve already established that dairy can temporarily thicken mucus, but what this change in your body does is cause harmful allergens to stay in your system longer.

According to doctors, whole milk, in particular, has been shown to stimulate the production of mucus, which is the opposite of the effect you want when you are sick.

3. Candy

The flu doesn’t go well with candy. It’s no secret that these sweet treats are filled with sugar, which is one of the top things you should avoid for better health, especially when you’re sick. Jeanette Kimszal, a registered dietitian nutritionist, counts sweet stuff as one of the worst foods for the flu and cold.

According to her, sugar causes inflammation in the body, which is known to decrease immunity by weakening white blood cells. These cells have a key role in your system—they do the “heavy lifting” when it comes to fighting infection.

This being said, pass on the candy to ensure your disease-fighting cells are working at full capacity.

4. Ice cream

Don’t turn to ice cream to soothe your sore throat because it may just keep you sick longer. Experts say this apparently harmless treat is made with full-fat dairy, which means it’s high in inflammation-triggering saturated fats. In a nutshell, ice cream also makes the list of the worst foods for the flu and COVID-19.

Moreover, it’s packed with sugar, another ingredient we’ve established that increases inflammation. So, think of ice cream as a doubt don’t when you’re trying to make your immune system fight off the cold or flu.

5. Coffee

Coffee might seem like a must when you’re feeling run down from the flu or COVID-19, but if you want to get back to normal quickly, you should try to lay off of Starbucks.

According to doctors, coffee dehydrates the body, which is something you don’t want when you’re having muscle aches. Registered dietitians point out that the immune system works best when the body is well-hydrated.

Coffee is known to be a diuretic due to the caffeine, so it will make you pee a lot. Combine this with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, and the caffeine will only make dehydration worse.

bananas are the best, worst foods for the flu
Photo by charnsitr from Shutterstock

6. Bananas

Surprise surprise! Bananas are also one of the worst foods for the flu and cold. These yellow fruits have some incredible health benefits, but it’s best to eat them when you’re healthy.

Doctors say that bananas can trigger a histamine release, which is something you should avoid when you’re sick. Moreover, the oblong fruit has a high sugar content, so it can lead to inflammation and impair your immune system, making it less efficient in its fight against disease.

Once you feel better, you should definitely reintroduce bananas to your daily diet.

More of the worst foods for the flu and COVID are below!

7. French toast

This brunch-time staple is delicious but should not become a sick food staple as it’s one of the worst foods for the flu and cold. French toast is typically made with brioche or white floors, both of which will quickly be converted into blood sugar in your body.

Moreover, the batter the bread is dipped in is generally made with dairy, which will thicken the mucus your body produces. On top of that, when maple syrup is generously swirled on top, it will result in even more sugar, which eventually will lead to more inflammation that will further sabotage your immune system.

8. Tuna

Mercury poisoning is the least of your concerns when it comes to eating tuna while you’re sick. However, this type of fish is one of the worst foods for the flu and cold, so it’s better to steer clear of it while symptoms are bothering you.

According to experts, tuna is particularly high in histamines, which can trigger inflammation and contribute to sinus congestion. So, to make sure you breathe easily, wait until the symptoms go away and your nasal passages are clear before ordering your favorite sushi dish.

9. Wasabi

Speaking of sushi, there’s another reason why you should stay away from this dish: wasabi. This green spicy sushi accompaniment is one of the worst foods for the flu and COVID-19, and there are two main explanations why that is.

For starters, if your stomach is upset, doctors advise you to avoid all pungent or hot foods that can worsen the symptoms. Secondly, eating spicy foods can increase mucus production and irritate your nasal passages. No matter what ailment you’re dealing with, it’s better to keep things simple until you’re feeling more like yourself.

10. Bacon

As one of the worst foods for the flu or cold, this breakfast favorite contains high amounts of sodium, and experts advise you to pay attention to your salt intake while you’re sick.

According to them, too much salt can lead to dehydration, especially during the flu or COVID-19. This is because excess salt causes fluids to be pulled from your cells into your blood flow, leaving your cells dehydrated. This can prolong or worsen cold and flu symptoms.

This being said, it’s better to eschew processed meats, such as bacon and salami, as well as higher-salt soups and fast food.

Photo by Africa Studio from Shutterstock

11. French fries

There are a couple of reasons why you should avoid deep-fried spuds, especially when you’re sick. As one of the worst foods for the flu and cold, French fries can cause inflammation in the body.

Moreover, if your stomach is upset, eating something greasy isn’t the way to go. According to experts, high-fat foods take significantly longer to digest and thus force the stomach to work a lot harder when it’s already sensitive—this can lead to vomiting and acid reflux.

12. Fruit juice

It’s time to stop spreading the misconception that drinking fruit juice when you’re sick will somehow help you get better faster. While most juice may contain large amounts of immune-boosting vitamin C, similar to some of the worst foods for the flu and COVID, it’s also packed with sugar, which will cause inflammation and hinder your body’s immune system responses.

If you’re really craving some fruit juice, try diluting it with water to lower the amount of sugar you’re consuming. Or, better yet, have a cup of fruit tea (this one is really good).

If you liked our article on the worst foods for the flu and COVID, you may also want to read 6 Delicious COVID-19-Fighting Breakfasts You Have to Try This Season!

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