Foods That Make Your Cold Worse

Since decades, people across the world are using common home remedies to alleviate common cold and flu. Some home remedies for cold and flu like turmeric milk, ginger tea and chicken soup are popular. Although these foods help in alleviating common colds and flu, you need to look out for those foods that make your cold worse. So, do a favor for yourself and avoid such foods when you are feeling under the weather.

Foods That Make Your Cold Worse

Foods That Make Your Cold Worse

In order to manage cold and flu, it is important to avoid certain foods that may be aggravating your cold. Here is a list of common foods that make your cold worse. Avoid these foods until the condition improves and you lead a normal routine again.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods are considered very helpful in alleviating common symptoms of cold because it clears up the nasal passage. But if you have upset stomach along with common cold and flu then spicy foods can worsen the condition by making your upset stomach worse. So, it is necessary to stop eating spicy foods if you have common cold with upset stomach.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbs like cookies, soda and breakfast cereals must be avoided when you have cold. The simple carbohydrates are easily broken down in stomach after consumption and it is converted into sugar in your body. This sugar can affect the neutral functions of white blood cells, decreasing your body’s ability to combat infections. So, in place of simple carbohydrates you are required to start consuming complex carbohydrates such as oats, beans, wheat breads, quinoa and grains.

Sweets like candies, chocolates, doughnuts and sweetened juices are packed with high refined sugars. So, if you consume sweets in excessive quantity during common cold and flu, then it will impact your immune system to combat against the bacteria and viruses and this may worsen the symptoms. Sugar also causes inflammation and makes the white blood cells weak. These foods can make your cold worse, so, try to avoid sweetened foods.

Sugar Free Candies

Sugar free candies are free from sugar, but the gum and candies comprise sorbitol which can cause your stomach to get upset. Sorbitol is indigestible element and may cause discomfort and even lead to diarrhea. Diarrhea means dehydration which is a sickness no-no. If you have cold and flu, this can make your cold worse. Using artificial sweetener may also lead to headache. If you are having scratchy throat along with cold and flu, consider using honey-sweetened cough drops which is free from sorbitol.

Citrus Fruits

The citrus fruits are always recommended to people who are suffering from flu or cold. However, the same citrus fruit juices can make the person’s condition worse, especially if they take the juices with added sugar or consume juices that are loaded with vitamin C. Excessive amount of vitamin C irritates the mucosal lining and cause more irritation.


Just like sugar, alcohol is also responsible for causing inflammation and makes the white blood cells weak. It also has dual effects that contribute to dehydration. Keeping yourself hydrated is necessary during common cold and flu because when you are hydrated the mucous membranes in nasal cavities remain moist and it can flush out the viruses more effectively. Dehydration during cold can also lead to muscle aches. So, you must keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids to get relief from cold. And remember to avoid alcohol, as it can make your cold worse.

Dairy Products

There are many people who consider dairy products to be helpful during cold and flu. But, it may not work for all. In some people, dairy products may not be tolerated well and can increase the production of mucus.

Fast Foods and Processed Foods

It is strongly recommended to avoid processed foods and fast foods while you are sick. The processed foods and fast foods don’t have any nutritional value and hence it hardly provides any nutrients to your immune system to boost its functioning. Most of these foods are made out of genetically modified foods and they comprise several artificial ingredients. All these ingredients are known to suppress your immune system and delay your recovery. These are some of the foods that make your cold worse.


As already mentioned, sugar is not good for people that are suffering from common cold or flu. Soda also comprises added sugar which can only worsen your cold. There is also another reason to avoid soda. Drinking caffeinated soda late in the day can disturb your sleeping quality. Your body needs good sleep to promote healing when you are sick with cold and flu. It improves immune function and fights fatigue too. So, ensure to drink warm herbal tea instead of caffeinated soda to enjoy quality sleep at night and improve your condition.

Fatty Foods

Fatty foods are known to suppress your immune function and are the commonest foods that male your cold worse. Such foods also cause inflammation, which may worse an upset stomach and make digestion even more difficult. It is best to take nutritious, soothing foods when you are ill, to promote faster recovery.

These are some of the common foods that are known to make cold worse. Make sure, you avoid these and plan a diet accordingly.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 2, 2017

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