Myth or Fact: Dairy products worsen a cold

Myth or Fact: Dairy products worsen a cold Cover Image

Find out from studies that monitored children who had been exposed to the cold-causing virus and their intake of diary products.

The myth

“Dairy products worsen a cold, especially curd”

There is a widespread belief that dairy products can worsen a cold, by increasing mucus production. Thicker phlegm might be irritating to the throat and hence it is often recommended that one avoids dairy products when one has a cold. Scientific studies have proven this to be just a myth. In fact it is believed that sometimes dairy products can help people to recover from a cold.

The facts

In 1990, there was an interesting study where researchers tracked the intake of dairy products of the subjects who had been exposed to the cold-causing virus. After 10 days of observation and study of the nasal secretions, they concluded that there was no relationship between dairy intake and mucus production. This was later confirmed by several researches through the decade. In a study in 2005, researchers observed that a combination of saliva and fat in the milk can tend to mimic mucus and that could have led to this widespread assumption. Hence, for those whose kids are uncomfortable with drinking whole milk, they can switch to low-fat or skimmed milk.

Contrary to old wives’ tales, it is in fact suggested to give dairy products like cheese and curd when your kid is down with cold and flu. The Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in cheese and probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) in curd help to boost immunity. Adding a pinch of antibacterial turmeric powder and pepper to lukewarm skimmed milk can also work wonders in relieving symptoms of the common cold.


The bottom line is that if your kid has a cold or is recovering from one, it is acceptable to give him/her dairy and dairy products. However, if you observe that the cold symptoms are getting worse and/or leading to sinusitis, then it is advised to get a dairy allergy test done for your child, as the symptoms could be part of an allergic reaction.

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