Some people think that there is more mucus in your mouth when you drink milk and it is likely to make you congested when you’re sick.

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

A glass of milk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pediatricians Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman, in trying to bust this health myth, said they even had trouble convincing their pharmacist it wasn’t true.

“But, I can feel it,” he told them.

But, that’s not what you feel.

This myth not only goes back to Moses Maimonides in the 12th century, but was being repeated as recently as Dr. Spock, that 1950s pediatrician we raised our children by.

The myth says that if you have respiratory problems, like asthma or congestion from a cold, you should eliminate all dairy products from your diet because they contribute to the congestion by producing phlegm, or mucus.

Many doctors still advise their patients to cut down on milk because they haven’t yet learned that this idea is a myth.

Milk does include a chemical that increases mucus in your gut, but that’s a long way from your respiratory tract.

In fact, a study showed that the only time volunteers reported more mucus after drinking milk was if they thought milk could cause more mucus before the experiment.

Unfortunately, the result was the same whether they were drinking soy milk or dairy milk.

If they had no opinion about mucus and milk, they reported no difference in mucus with either drink.

In other studies, one where volunteers were given colds, and others studying asthma and eczema, there was no difference between milk and water in mucus production or congestion.

The only thing that is really happening, for those who are sensitive to milk when they are congested, is something called droplet flocculation, in which the milk comes out of suspension to aggregate in larger drops.

Anything you drink causes more saliva to form in your mouth and milk spreads out more in the saliva because of the chemical effect of flocculation.

So, not more mucus, but it feels like it because it’s creamier, and no effect on congestion.

Thanks to Drs. Carroll and Vreeman for busting this health myth.

You can order their book from amazon by clicking on the title, “Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They’ll Get Stuck That Way!”


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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