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.