Food is the last thing that is on our mind when we are battling an illness such as the flu or stomach bug. However, we have to keep the tank fueled and what food we choose to do so matters a lot - some foods and drinks can make you feel even worse.
Below are 9 foods and beverages that you should avoid when you're ill so that you can feel better a lot faster.
When you should avoid it: You have any type of illness, but especially if you have a stomach bug.
Why it makes you feel worse: The caffeine present in coffee is a diuretic, so it can make you urinate a lot, leaving you dehydrated. That is bad news when you're battling some sort of virus or other infection, since being hydrated helps your immune system fight more effectively. Caffeine is even worse if you're vomiting or have diarrhea, since both will cause you to lose further fluids and, therefore, taking caffeine on top of that will only make your dehydration worse. Furthermore, caffeine can stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract and intensify your diarrhea.
When you should avoid it: If you have a cough or a sore throat.
Why it makes you feel worse: Orange juice's tart acidity is usually very refreshing, but when you have a cough or a cold, it can cause more damage than good. This is because the citric acid irritates further the lining of your already-inflamed throat. This means your throat will take longer to heal.
When you should avoid it: You have any sort of illness, but especially a stomach bug.
Why it makes you feel worse: Eating refined sugar can temporarily hinder your white blood cells' ability to fend off bacteria. Therefore, for a few hours after snacking on sugary treats such as cookies, candy or cereal, your immune system is weaker. As a result, it will be less efficient at fighting off the germs that are making you ill. Refined sugar poses more of a problem when you have a stomach bug as the sugar pulls fluid out of the GI tract, leading to diarrhea.
When to avoid it: You are suffering from any type of illness, but especially a stomach bug.
Why it makes you feel worse: Caffeinated sodas, just like coffee, will dehydrate you and they are full of sugars that will suppress your immune system and mess with your GI tract. If water doesn't appeal to you, try a low-energy drink with rehydrating electrolytes - like a sports drink or coconut water.
When to avoid it: You have a cough or a sore throat.
Why they make you feel worse: The abrasiveness of snacks such as potato chips, granola, or even crispy toast will feel like sandpaper on your raw throat. The more you irritate your throat, the longer it will take to heal.
When to avoid it: You have any sort of illness, but especially a stomach bug.
Why it makes you feel worse: Alcohol, just like coffee, is a diuretic that can worsen illness-related dehydration, and since you're probably already dehydrated to begin with, your blood alcohol content will rise faster - thus, you will get drunk faster. Alcohol may also speed up digestion, which can lead to watery stools or diarrhea.
When to avoid it: You have stuffiness and congestion.
Why it makes you feel worse: You have probably heard that you should avoid dairy when you're ill because it makes you produce more phlegm and mucus. However, there is no clear evidence of this. Although, some people find that dairy makes their phlegm thicker and more unpleasant.
When to avoid it: You have a stomach bug.
Why it makes you feel worse: Fatty foods take a lot longer to move through your digestive system, which can make nausea worse and trigger acid reflux. Furthermore, as they can trigger muscle spasms in your gut, they can make diarrhea a lot worse. So, save the fatty foods for when you're better.
When to avoid it: You have a runny nose.
why it makes you feel worse: Chili peppers and hot sauce get their heat from capsaicin, a compound which will irritate your nasal passages and make your nose run. Therefore, if you already have a runny nose, the heat will only make it worse.