Ice Cream When You’re Sick?

I am sure most of us have heard at some point in our lives that we should avoid dairy when we’re sick. I had always been told that it’ll lead to more mucus production and keep me sick longer. The thing is,whenever I’m sick with a cold ice cream is about the only thing i want to eat to make my throat feel better. I decided to look into the truths behind the consequences of dairy consumption when you’re sick with a cold. 

I know my doctor had only ever told me that mucus may become thicker with milk, not increased, but I wanted to see what studies had been done on the matter.

In the 1990’s Carole B. Pinnock, Neil M. Graham, Arul Mylvaganam, and Robert M. Douglas did a study to try and see if there is a correlation between dairy intake and secretion of mucus. They started with the null hypothesis that milk has no effect and the alternative hypothesis that milk did in fact increase and affect mucus. They first infected 60 people with the rhinovirus- which causes the common cold. Next they monitored their dairy intake for ten days. Many of the participants had the preconceived notion that more milk meant more mucus but the scientists recording their symptoms and nasal congestion/secretion levels said otherwise. They found in difference in the weight (amount) of mucus being produced between that varying amounts of dairy the participants were ingesting. There was a very small increase in loose coughing with increased milk intake, but it was too small to be considered statistically significant. In this particular experiment, the null hypothesis won out.

Jim Bartley also did a study on the matter. He found that only within a small group of the population, with very specific circumstance, could milk increase mucus production and asthmatic or cold symptoms. They have to have a specific milk type, and the beta CM-7 as well as colon inflammation. So while he did find small correlation, but not direct causation, for the most part Bartley would agree with the idea that mucus does not increase with dairy consumption.

This information definitely corresponds with what I’ve found in my life, if anything eating ice cream or having a milkshake when I’m feeling sick makes me feel better. As we’ve seen time and time again in class a popular notion isn’t always based in fact and many times is plain untrue, as we see here with milk and mucus production.







3 thoughts on “Ice Cream When You’re Sick?

  1. Mya Legend Avant

    This is very intersting; I actually never heard of having ice cream when you are sick but it is alway nice to see a myth debunked. When I was growing up I was actually always told to drink orange juice to make you better and the truth behind this was actually suprising. It turns out that not only does orange juice not help you, it can hurt hurt you. While the vitamin C is great for your body the sugar is not so much. The benefits you get from the vitamin C in orange juice are less than that of the negative effec sugar has on your immune system. The article below talks about how the sugar in orange juice slows down your immune system because it takes the space away from vitamin C; this results in you not getting the positive side effect of drinking orange juice. Perhaps it’s not the dairy in ice cream we should be worried about, but the sugar.

  2. Taylor M Lender

    I like this topic a lot because the idea of avoiding dairy when sick is pervasive. When I am sick and have milking my coffee or cereal, I feel more mucus-y. This could be a placebo effect. Since I am told that dairy makes my mucus worse, I notice the mucus more even though it was already there. I wonder if the thickness of some dairy products just clog up the esophagus more when swallowing. If the nose is blocked and then your windpipe because temporally block by thick ice cream, maybe people notice how it is difficult to breath due to their congestion. I wonder if an experiment having sick people drink skim milk, which is more watery, and another group drink whole milk, which is thicker, would differ in how mucus-y each group felt?

  3. Alexander J Pulice

    This is very interesting, and all to real for me the past couple weeks. I totally agree, when I’m sick there is nothing I want more than a nice chocolate milkshake. I’ve always heard from people that dairy makes your cold worse, but I guess that’s just another common misconception. Unfortunately there are a ton of common myths like that regarding common human health conditions. check this out if you’re interested in hearing about other common health myths

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