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Milk and Mucus Myth Buster

dairy and mucus myth busters

Do you avoid milk and dairy products when you have a cold? The belief that “milk increases mucus production” has been around for centuries, but it is actually a myth. There have been no major studies that show any connection between milk and increased mucus production or worsened asthma symptoms.

Where did this belief come from? No one knows exactly, but milk does have a tendency to thicken saliva. The thickened saliva may coat the throat and give the perception of more mucus, but it does not cause the body to produce more mucus or phlegm. In one randomized study, people were given either soy or cow’s milk that was disguised with chocolate mint flavoring. Both groups reported the same effects: saliva felt thicker and it created a coating on the mouth, throat and tongue. This study demonstrated that there is no correlation between dairy and mucus production.

In addition to the calcium and vitamin D that dairy provides, frozen dairy products can help soothe a sore throat and provide calories and fluids when appetite is decreased from illness. Bottom Line: Milk and other dairy products contain nutrients that are vital to health. Milk should not be avoided based solely on the outdated belief that it stimulates mucus production. Children should continue to be served milk regardless of whether they have a cold.

Written by: Kelsey Bird, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


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