Foods to Avoid When You are Sick

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From colds to constipation, here are some suggestions that might just help improve your condition

For a cold

Avoid: sugary drinks

When you have a cold you generally feel low on energy, so it can be tempting to reach for a sugary drink as a quick pick-me-up. Unfortunately though, that’s a bad move because sugar causes ­inflammation in the body and weakens the immune system, making it harder for white blood cells to fight the virus.

  • Try: Keep hydrated by drinking hot drinks or water, which will flush the toxins from your body. Fruit and vegetables will provide the nutrients you need to boost your immune system and help get rid of the infection.

For a phlegmy cough

Avoid: milk

Milk thickens phlegm in your throat (Image: iStockphoto)

The idea that you should avoid dairy products, and in particular milk, when you have a cough or cold is one that has been around for years, because many people believe it increases the ­production of phlegm.

Recent research, however, has shown this isn’t the case. But while milk won’t result in more mucus, it can still make the existing phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat. This can make it harder to breathe and can aggravate a cough.

  • Try: Again, drinking water will help as it can thin out the mucus and help it to move more freely. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, so try eating citrus fruits, berries and leafy greens too. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation so make sure you are eating plenty of oily fish and seeds.

For an upset stomach

Avoid: citrus fruits

Acidic citric fruits can aggravate the lining of the stomach (Image: Cultura RF)

Oranges and other citrus fruits might be full of vitamin C but they are also highly acidic and can aggravate the lining of the stomach, especially when you’re not feeling too well. Tomatoes and tomato-based sauces will most likely have the same effect as they are also very acidic.

Avoid alcohol because it contains ­chemicals that are difficult to ­metabolise and will make your stomach even more unsettled.

  • Try: Bland foods, such as rice, crackers, baked chicken and toast, are easy for the stomach to tolerate.

For migraines

Avoid: cured meats

Nitrates, found in cured meats such as bacon, could trigger migraines (Image: Cultura RF)

Research in America found that people who suffer from migraines have higher levels of a gut bacteria which processes nitrates. This means they are more ­sensitive to foods containing nitrates and this could trigger an attack.

Nitrates are used to preserve bacon, sausages and other processed meats and occur naturally in leafy greens. Chocolate, red wine, coffee and fizzy drinks containing caffeine are also thought to trigger migraines in some people.

  • Try: Foods rich in magnesium, such as almonds, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds, help to relax the blood vessels which eases pain. Normal headaches can be caused by dehydration so try eating foods such as watermelon and cucumber and drink plenty of water. For menstrual headaches, eat sesame seeds which stabilise oestrogen levels.

For a sore throat

Avoid: lemonade and grape juice

Lemonade, orange juice and grape juice are all highly acidic so will ­irritate a sore throat, and raw fruits, such as pineapple, and pickled vegetables, may have the same effect. If your throat feels raw and painful then hard, abrasive foods such as crisps, nuts and cereal bars are likely to cause some discomfort when you’re eating so it’s best to avoid these until you have recovered.

  • Try: Peppermint tea has an anaesthetic effect and honey is also known for its healing properties. Soft creamy foods, such as soups, yoghurt and mashed potato, are also soothing. Ripe bananas aren’t
    acidic, so if you’re craving fruit have
    one of these instead.

For a fever

Avoid: alcohol

Alcohol dehydrates your body so is best avoided when suffering with a fever (Image: Johner RF)

If a fever has left you ­shivering and sweating in bed then you probably won’t feel much like drinking anyway. But even if your fever is mild it’s best to stay away from alcohol until you’ve recovered.

Like coffee, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it has a ­dehydrating effect on the body and will make the effects of the fever worse.

Similarly, sugary foods such as sweets or chocolate will inhibit your immune system further.

  • Try: The old adage that you should starve a fever is a myth. The body burns more calories when you have a fever so if you don’t eat enough you’ll lack the energy your immune system needs to fuel a recovery.

Choose fresh fruits that are rich in vitamin C, and potassium-rich foods such as bananas and potatoes.

Water-based soups are hydrating and soothing while proteins such as chicken, turkey and eggs will give your immune system the energy it needs.

For constipation

Avoid: chocolate

Sugar and caffeine, which are both found in chocolate, can worsen constipation (Image: iStockphoto)

Many sufferers claim that chocolate causes constipation and this could be for many reasons. Firstly, chocolate is high in sugar which is difficult for your bowels to process and it also contains caffeine which leads to dehydration, making your stools harder to pass.

Lastly it contains milk, which is thought to be binding.

However, some studies show that chocolate can ease constipation in certain people, so keep a food diary and see how it affects you.

  • Try: Prunes are widely used as a natural way to ease constipation and it’s vital to drink lots of fluids. Beans, lentils and wholegrains are full of fibre, which will help to get your system working as it should do.

For sickness

Avoid: burgers and chips

Fatty foods take longer to pass through your system (Image: iStockphoto)

If you’re feeling nauseous it can be tempting to opt for stodgy foods. But fried or fatty foods will take longer to pass through the digestive system so can make the ­sickness worse.

They can also trigger acid reflux, which will leave you feeling even worse than you did already.

  • Try: Ginger is a well-known cure for nausea so try ginger tea, ginger biscuits or adding some fresh ginger to your meals. Bland carbohydrates, such as toast and rice, or proteins such as turkey, are easy for the stomach to digest.

For diarrhoea

Avoid: onions

Onions lead to increased intestinal gas (Image: iStockphoto)

Onions, beans, cabbage and broccoli all increase intestinal gas and bloating, which could make the diarrhoea worse. Some artificial sweeteners, diet drinks and sugar-free sweets can have a ­laxative effect, so are best avoided until you’re feeling better again.

  • Try: Bananas are high in potassium so will replace the essential electrolytes you have lost if you’re suffering diarrhoea. Stick to toast, crackers, boiled potatoes, oatmeal and other thick, bland foods for the first 24 hours, and make sure you drink regularly to replace the fluids you have lost

 

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