The season is upon us. While that holiday feeling is starting to buzz in the air, there is something else coming in. The flu! While many of us are getting ready for that special time of year, the flu and other illness are coming for us. We all have our own ways of trying to beat the flu season, sometimes it catches up with us anyway and takes us. When that happens, it’s tempting to eat all our favorite foods in order to comfort us but this is a bad idea. In order to beat the flu and get back to normal, there are 10 Foods and Drinks To Avoid When You’re Sick, and here they are.
10. Citrus And Other Fruits
On our list of foods and drinks to avoid when you are sick, there may be some surprising entries and this is one of them. When we have that feeling of being run down, nauseous or a general lethargic feeling, our instinct is to grab a nice, refreshing glass of orange juice. After all, it’s full of vitamin C which is good for you right? As much as your body needs vitamin C, what it doesn’t need when it’s sick is citrus. Oranges, grapefruit, pineapples, limes, lemons and even tomatoes are a big no-no when you are ill. The acid can seriously irritate the stomach lining and make you feel even worse than you did before. If you are feeling nauseous or have stomach flu, then avoid citrus fruits until you are feeling a bit better as the citrus acid will not only make things worse, it will probably come back on you and result in added problems like a soar throat. Best to avoid. Other fruits and veg that should be avoided when you are sick are Bananas, Papayas, and avocados. While there are plenty of health benefits to eating these fruits, it’s best to stick to them when you’re healthy as they can all trigger histamine which can swell your nasal passage and make you feel more congested and stuffy.
9. Canned Soup
Another food that seems like the perfect cure for the flu is canned soup. While soup is good for anyone feeling under the weather, the best form is good old fashioned homemade soup. The reason for this is that canned soup, as well as a lot of canned foods, are very high in sodium and salt. Too much salt can dehydrate the body, which is bad news especially as your body is already less than it should be. When the body is dehydrated during illness, it makes the symptoms much worse and the body struggles to combat them so your illness can last a lot longer as well. Other foods that are high in sodium that you should avoid while you are sick are; processed/ deli meat; such as pepperoni, bologna, and ham. You should also avoid foods like bacon, sausages, and most canned or overly processed foods such as microwave meals. Also anything pickled or brined such as pickles and canned tuna. Another big food group to avoid is anything high in MSG. Not only are the sodium levels high, but reports are that MSG contains addictive properties that can worsen headaches and migraines when you are sick. So no Chinese take-out when you are ill. We know, being sick is the worst. But avoid salty foods and you will be back to normal very soon.
While a big cup of morning coffee can perk you up and get you ready for the day ahead, coffee is one of the worst things you can have when you’re fighting off that flu bug. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes the body to become more dehydrated. The more caffeine you take in, the more dehydrated you become and the longer your flu will last. Drinks that are high in caffeine; such as coffee, tea, most sodas, and all energy drinks make the body lose fluids, which is not a good thing when you are under the weather. Also, most of these drinks are high in sugar which can cause inflammation and make it harder for the body to fight off infection and recover from the flu. The other drink that a lot of people reach for when they are ill is sports drinks. As most of them claim to full of things like electrolytes, a lot of people think that drinking a lot of sports drinks when they are sick can help the body recover quicker. Unfortunately, this is not true and sports drinks can actually make things worse. Falling under the same fate as other sodas, sports drinks are high in sugar, these drinks are going to make any stomach or bowel problems a lot worse. The only thing those extra electrolytes will be used for is spending your day running back and forth from the bathroom.
7. Alcohol Is A Big No-No
The thought of a hot toddy or even a nip of whiskey to warm your body up when you are ill may be an appealing one, but just before you reach for the liquor bottle on the shelf there are a few things about alcohol you should know. Just as caffeine does, alcohol will dry your body out and cause dehydration. The body needs plenty of liquids when it’s run down, but not alcohol. Too much alcohol when you’re ill will interfere with the body’s natural immune system and could cause your kidneys to stop doing their job properly; which is to filter liquid waste from your body. If your body is overly dehydrated then this process can’t happen and it will take you a lot longer to recover. The other thing about alcohol is that the effects of them will probably hit you a lot harder and stronger when your body is run down. Plus, too much alcohol can affect medication and antibiotics that you may be taking as a result of your flu. The best thing to drink when you are ill is good, old fashioned water. It may be boring but it’s the best liquid to get you back on your feet.
We all know this one. While it may be tempting to order your favorite comfort food when you are feeling low and ill, after all, eating a tasty burger and fries from your favorite fast-food joint is bound to cheer you up. Isn’t it? While the comfort factor and general feeling of fast food might help your mood a little, everything else will make you feel a whole lot worse. The high grease and deep-fried elements to these foods can increase inflammation in the body, as well as make stomach problems a lot worse such as vomiting and more trips to the bathroom. Then there are the ingredients themselves; red meats are off-limits when you are sick as the high-fat content is not going to help with nausea and digestive problems. French fries are definitely off-limits as the potato which is high in starch and sodium can cause even more problems with inflammation and digestive issues. Plus an all-round feeling off nausea and general crumminess. The same goes for potato chips! While fast food, in general, is to be avoided when you are sick, there is one tasty dish that is worse than them all and that’s pizza. Everyone’s favorite takeout item is a triple threat; even a simple cheese and tomato pizza aren’t going to help. The saturated fats from the cheese are going to trigger inflammation and the tomato is a known histamine releaser which is going to make things like sinuous congestion a lot worse. Then there is the pizza base itself which is high in wheat, which can not only trigger gluten allergies but can increase inflammation and digestion problems.
5. Sweet Treats
It is no secret to any of us that our favorite sweet treats contain lots of sugar. While that might ‘pep’ us up on a normal day, when we are ill, sugar, in particular, refined sugar, is a must avoid food group. Refined sugar causes inflammation in the body which has been shown to decrease the immune system by weakening white blood cells, which are the cells responsible for fighting off infections. While eating candy and chocolate may well be the ultimate comfort food when your body is feeling down, it can do more harm than good when fighting off infection and diseases. Then, of course, there is the nutritional factor, or lack of it, in candy. It’s better to eat something that has more nurturance so your body can fight back against the illness quicker. Many people might think that there is a way around the ‘no candy’ rule when they are sick and that is to have sugar free candy. While there is plenty of sugar-free options on the market, these are also a big no-no. While they don’t contain refined sugar, many of them do contain Sorbitol as a sugar substitute. Sorbitol can’t be digested by the body and can cause stomach issues and discomfort. Also, many artificial sweeteners can have a bad effect on an ill body too and trigger headaches and migraines.
4. Anything Dairy
This is not going to make many people happy as yes, we are afraid this includes everyone’s favorite go-to sick food, ice cream. Full-fat dairy is a big food group to avoid when you are sick. Whole milk, in particular, is bad for congestion as it can thicken existing mucus which can lead to the nasty bugs and viruses sticking around in your body longer. Whole milk has also been known to actually stimulate the production of mucus and phlegm in the body. Which is something we really don’t need when we are already working our way through plenty of boxes of Kleenex. A lot of ice creams and even some yogurts use full-fat milk but they also use plenty of sugar which, as we’ve mentioned on our list already, can increase inflammation and make the immune system weaker. Another dairy food to avoid is cheese. While it does contain the full-fat dairy element, it is also high in saturated fats which isn’t good for the immune system either. Although it can be tempting to reach for your favorite dairy product, especially when you are stuck in bed, it’s best to avoid anything that has full fat or full dairy until you are feeling much better.
3. What? No Toast!
There is no question that toast is most people’s first thought when they are ill. After all, we’ve all known that toast is good for an upset stomach. We’ve known this since we were children and our moms would tuck us up in bed with a plate of toast on those days we had a stomach ache. While plain toast can help with digestion and other stomach issues we might have, there are unfortunately some downsides to eating this classic snack when we are taken by the flu. It’s all to do with refined carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are broken down quickly into sugar by our bodies and then they go to work on our immune system by weakening it. Much like refined sugar does. So, toast, pasta, and anything with enriched flour is to be avoided. Another iconic food to eat when you are feeling ill is a cracker or Saltine. Unfortunately, we are going to ruin them for you as well. Many people out their think these crackers are a better option when ill as surely they can’t have anything bad in them? Actually they do. Many crackers, saltines, in particular, contain high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil, which all have the same effect on the immune system as refined sugar and carbohydrates. On top of that, there is the texture of crackers and toast which can aggravate a sore throat or any swollen glands.
Seafood may not be everyone’s first food to eat when they are feeling ill. Maybe that’s because a lot of the time it might have been the seafood that caused their illness in the first place. However, just to be on the safe side we thought we should add it to our list of foods to avoid when you are sick. Pretty much all fish and shellfish contain compounds that can trigger the release of histamine in the body, which will make congestion and stuffiness much worse. This will also lead to the illness staying around for longer and possibly even getting worse. Another way to enjoy seafood is to deep fry them. This is an even bigger no-no as this will increase the fat and grease which your stomach will not thank you for. Other seafood favorites like tachos and pizzas are also out of the question. While some kinds of seafood are seen as aphrodisiacs, eating them while ill will not put anyone in the mood. Especially with a runny nose and mucus-filled sinuses.
1. All Things Spice
Over the years there have been many tests run on spicey foods and the effects they have on our health. Some say to avoid them at all costs while others encourage spice in our diets as they can actually improve our health. The same goes for spicy foods when we are ill. If you are having congestion problems or general stuffiness then a bit of spice can actually help clear your sinuses out and help you breathe a little better. However, if your issue is a little more south, then it’s best to avoid spice altogether as it can make your stomach problems so much worse. Other foods in this area to avoid when you are ill, especially with the flu or stomach issues, are; Soy sauce, vinegar, horseradish, and wasabi. All of which is going to trigger histamine in the body and make things a lot worse. On top of that these types of foods and sauces tend to have a lot of salt and therefore high sodium levels, which can dehydrate the body and take the body much longer to fight off the flu or illness.