HEALTH COLUMN: Dairy’s a no-no if you have a cold

By Fiona Chapman

I HAVE just been having lunch with my uncle who suffers from sleep apnoea, which is a horrible complaint meaning you wake in the night having stopped breathing. He also has a cold which is making it all much worse and he is getting very little sleep. With good sleep, your body can heal and repair, so not having any not only makes him feel terrible but it becomes a vicious circle.

As I was watching him ladle cream onto his pudding, I gave him the most awful shock by shouting NO and almost physically wrenching the plate from him. If you have a cold, hay-fever, flu, cough, anything where mucous is being produced, dairy is an absolute no-no. It is mucous inducing and will only exacerbate the situation.

My poor uncle loves his cream and his cheese, so was bitterly disappointed to be told to give it all up – I was backed up by his Australian grand-daughter who confirmed that it is a big thing in Australia – no dairy with a cold.

I will be mixing up a herbal concoction for my uncle to try and tackle the cold, to help his lungs and to tighten up the membranes that have become loose and so close, which stops his breathing. But it is no good my just doing a herbal mixture if he does not change his lifestyle, even if it is just for a while when he is ill.

This applies to us all. When we are well, we can tolerate and deal with foods, drinks and chemicals that are not so good for us – although I would always recommend moderation. When we are ill, however, it is vitally important to really give our body a chance to heal and restore itself. We should stop any toxins going in, alcohol, coffee, fizzy drinks, processed foods, dairy, sugar and often gluten and just eat lightly steamed vegetables.

Nutritionists talk about a rainbow of food, which is what we should have on our plates as all coloured foods from carrots, tomatoes, peppers, sprouts, spinach, kale and, of course, fruit, give us the vitamins and minerals our body needs to heal and repair.

The old saying of ‘feed a cold and starve a fever’ has got a bit muddled. It should be, IF you feed a cold, you will need to starve a fever.

Fiona Chapman is a Naturopathic Herbalist (

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