3 Biggest Myths About The Common Cold

Lifestyle // Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu

It’s that time of year again… beanies, puffer vests, boots and tissues! As soon as the weather takes that chilly turn, my nose starts to run and I feel frozen to the bone. More so than ever, I want to make sure I am well prepared for this cold and flu season. With the massive hit our nation has taken with COVID 19, nobody wants to be feeling sick and miserable and out with a cold. But what can I do to help myself this winter? There is certainly a range of ‘lotions and potions’ out there claiming to stop or prevent the common cold, as well as ‘old wives tales’ that have been around so long people think they are true! So let’s look at some of the leading claims and the research that proves what’s fact and what is fiction

Dairy products increase mucus production – MYTH

This myth has been around for as long as I can remember and it’s simply not true. Your mucus may seem thicker with dairy, but it doesn’t create more. For many, the cool and soothing feel of yoghurt is perfect for a sore throat when it feels like sandpaper to swallow anything. Try these 12WBT greek yoghurt recipes

Vitamin C can prevent and decrease the frequency and duration of the common cold – INCONCLUSIVE

If you are anything like me, your mum used to serve you a tall glass of OJ when you were little and sick. It’s refreshing and feels like it’s doing its part to fight off a cold… BUT, unfortunately, the jury is still out. Yes, you should 100% include vitamin c rich foods in your diet, so don’t remove them… just don’t hang all your hopes on the OJ curing your sniffles! 

Feed a cold… starve a fever! – MYTH

I bet most of you have heard this expression once or twice! The belief here is that eating food may help the body generate warmth during a “cold” and that avoiding food may help it cool down when overheated during a “fever”. BUT this is simply not true! Whether you have a cold or a flu, adequate hydration and nourishing food is absolutely required in both cases. Keep a bottle of water by your bedside and have balanced meals at the ready. Gentle foods like scrambled eggs, soups and bircher muesli are lovely (link recipes)

Zinc lozenges can prevent common cold – INCONCLUSIVE

When zinc lozenges came on the market, I was there at the ready to buy them! I thought that it was genius! I used to be a school teacher and I thought they were just what I needed to prevent myself from picking up the colds and flus brought into my classroom. Unfortunately, like vitamin C, the evidence is still inconclusive. Instead of these pricey lozenges, try including some zinc-rich foods in your diet – like wholegrain toast with baked beans, or try this 12WBT beef and bean burrito recipe

Echinacea is the perfect supplement for the common cold – INCONCLUSIVE

My parents once owned a fruit and veg shop next door to a health food store. The guy in the health food store was always sharing the latest ‘super supplements’ with my parents and I remember my Mum making us try echinacea. There was something about the aftertaste that was so repulsive I was convinced it was killing germs inside me! But that was 30 years ago, and still to this day, there isn’t a strong body of evidence to support it as a preventative supplement for colds. 

Bottom line is that rest, nourishing foods and plenty of water is the best line of defence for the common cold. And in terms of preventing yourself from catching a cold – wash your hands, keep warm, and keep up a healthy diet to ensure your immune system is as robust as possible! 

For healthy diet and fitness support this winter, consider joining our 12WBT program!

Be the first to comment