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What Should You Not Eat When You Have the Flu?

Ask a Doctor

I recently had a bad bout with the flu virus, and it seemed to last forever. I’m wondering if there’s a way to reduce the duration of your symptoms without the traditional treatment. For example, is there a list of foods to avoid when you have the flu?

Doctor’s Response

When you have the flu, there are certain foods that may aggravate symptoms and make you feel worse.

Some foods to avoid when you have the flu include:

  • Sugar: This can cause inflammation which can cause sinuses to narrow and aggravate congestion
  • Dairy: Dairy proteins can thicken mucus or increase mucus production.
  • Greasy/fatty foods: Fatty foods can actually weaken the immune system.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a mild diuretic and while in itself it will not cause dehydration, it can cause increased urination, which is not a good combination with symptoms such as vomiting or sweating that can lead to dehydration.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can lead to dehydration, and it can predispose drinkers to diarrhea, which can also contribute to dehydration.

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Reviewed on 1/10/2019
References
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Gramlich, MD, FRCPC , Leah , Puneeta Tandon, MD, FRCPC and Adam Rahman, MD, DABIM, FRCPC. Nutritional status in patients with sustained heavy alcohol use. 26 January 2017. 12 November 2018 .

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D. Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge. 21 April 2010. 12 November 2018 .

Rutgers Student Health Services . Cold and Flu. 2018. 12 November 2018 .

University of Gothenburg. Fatty food can weaken the immune system. 10 December 2009. 12 November 2018 .
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