Drinking milk makes colds worse, myth or reality?

Drinking milk makes colds worse, myth or reality?
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There are studies that claim that it can increase mucus secretion and do not recommend its consumption during a cold

In recent years, many have decided to stop drinking milk. Good because they feel bad, or because they consider that it is not healthy for the body. Alternatives such as soyalmond or coconut drinks are a success and more and more consumers buy them at the supermarket or ask for them at the bar to mix with their coffee.

Among the supposed harmful effects of cow’s milk, there is one that has been around for a long time: the association of this drink with colds. We are going to try to shed light on this issue. We will try to explain whether milk causes or aggravates colds.

This theory was popularized by a physician, Dr Spock, who in 1946 published a book on how to care for a child. Among the recommendations was not to give them milk when they had a cold. It sold millions of copies.

A medical research claims

Milk can make colds worse by aggravating symptoms in patients with excessive mucus secretion.

The most recent study on the subject is from 2018 and was published in the scientific journal Laryngoscope.

Medical research claims that milk can make colds worse by aggravating symptoms in patients with excessive mucus secretion. The scientists hoped, precisely, to prove the opposite, because there are previous studies that rule out that there is a relationship between milk and colds.

The study involved 26 men and 82 women from Lister Hospital in the UK. They all had more snot than usual and dairy was removed from their diet. No milk, no yoghurt, no cheese.

From that moment, when they had already been on a diet for three days, half drank a glass of whole cow’s milk, while the other half drank the same amount of soy drink. Both had an altered taste, so they wouldn’t notice what they were eating.

The result was as follows: those who drank cow’s milk continued to have cold symptoms, while those who drank soy milk reduced them.

Mucus is mainly made up of water and salt, although it also contains proteins. Mucus is useful for our body because it protects us against infections. Now, when there are too many, they start to drip down the throat and that is what causes cold symptoms: sore throat, cough, hoarse voice … And, according to this study, milk does not help to fight against these effects from excess mucus.

However, not all scientists have reached the same conclusion and there are those who affirm that milk is not negative for colds and it is appropriate to continue drinking it. In the early 1990s, in Australia, a group of researchers tried to prove it.

Recommendations

If it is stopped, it should be for a limited time. Once we stop having colds, the milk will not give us cold again and we can drink it calmly

The behaviour of 60 people between 18 and 25 years of age was studied for 10 days. The secretion of mucus from the nose and its relationship with milk intake was measured. The conclusion was that there was no association between both factors. In a second study, with 169 participants, differences were found in the viscosity of the mucus of those who drank milk, but not in the amount.

In addition, many doctors warn about the danger of stopping taking dairy products, due to the source of nutrients it represents in our body, especially in the case of children. Therefore, it is important to take into account the importance of this drink, in terms of calcium and vitamins that it contributes to the human body.

So where do we agree?

Although there are studies that affirm that milk can increase the secretion of mucus and, therefore, make a cold worse, we must take into account what it contributes to the body and, therefore, if it is stopped taking, it should be for a limited time. Once we stop having colds, the milk will not give us cold again and we can drink it calmly.