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Foods to Avoid With Head Colds

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods to Avoid With Head Colds
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Head colds, also called simply colds or "the common cold," cause bothersome symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and sore throat, for up to two weeks. To prevent colds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends good hand hygiene and keeping a distance from people with upper-respiratory infections. Once you have a cold, rest, hydration and over-the-counter medications may help reduce symptoms and expedite your recovery. If your symptoms are severe, seek medical guidance.

Added Sugars

Foods to Avoid With Head Colds
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Added sugars, such as cane sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup, add sweet flavor but few nutrients to foods. According to "Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide," by Larry Trivieri, Burton Goldberg and John W. Anderson, consuming added sugars while experiencing a cold can hinder immune system strength, making it more difficult for your body to recover from the infection. Consuming foods rich in added sugars, such as regular soft drinks, candy, cakes and pie, also leaves less room in your diet for health-boosting antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Although a modest amount of added sugars is unlikely to cause harm, choose natural, nutritious foods more often.

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Dairy Products

Foods to Avoid With Head Colds
Man drinking milk Photo Credit Stefano Valle/iStock/Getty Images

Dairy products, though rich sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, may worsen cold symptoms in some people. Milk doesn't cause mucus. It can, however, make the mucus already present in your throat thicker and more bothersome. For this reason, limiting or avoiding dairy products until you've recovered from your cold may improve your symptoms. Avoid high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, high-fat cheeses and creamy sauces in particular for best results.

Fatty Meats and Deep-Fried Foods

Foods to Avoid With Head Colds
Fried chicken and fries Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Fatty meats -- such as organ meats, processed meats and porterhouse steak -- and deep-fried foods, such as french fries, contain unhealthy saturated fat. They can also hinder digestion and immune system function when you're faced with a cold, according to Trivieri, Goldberg and Anderson. Other fatty foods to avoid include potato chips, nachos, hot dogs, meat-and-cheese-topped pizza, fast-food breakfast sandwiches and burgers, fried chicken and fish filets, ham-and-cheese omelets, buttery garlic bread and red meat with visible fat.

Caffeinated Foods and Beverages

Foods to Avoid With Head Colds
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Caffeine is a stimulant that can heighten your alertness and, when consumed in excess, contribute to dehydration. Since staying properly hydrated and getting adequate rest are important factors in preventing and treating colds, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, limit or avoid caffeinated foods, such as chocolate and diet products and beverages designed to boost energy, such as coffee, black tea, iced tea, regular soft drinks and energy drinks. Sweetened caffeinated beverages may further exacerbate your illness.

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