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Sugar: Excess sugar drives up inflammation and puts the brakes on a healthy immune response — a damaging double whammy for healing. That said, a well-placed dollop of honey is an exception. And you don’t need to worry about the small amount of sugar in herbal remedies or the natural sweetness in fruit.

“This is not about fruit or lozenges. This is about cookies and cakes,” says nutritionist Mary Purdy. “The refined sugars can potentially suppress the immune system. Plus, refined sugar is likely to displace the essential and important nutrients that help to bolster our health.”

Dairy: Dairy products tend to increase mucus production and make it denser. “Dairy can prevent mucus from flowing more freely,” says Purdy. “But it is meant to flow because it gathers junk from the body and aims to deliver it out.”

Cold or Raw Foods: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practi­tioners view cold and raw foods as hard to digest and suggest avoiding them. The body needs to preserve energy for heal­ing and not expend it on digestion.

Processed Foods: Largely devoid of nutrition, processed fare often contains ingredients, like refined sugar and trans fats, that can actively obstruct a speedy recovery.

Acupuncturist Mona Dan and other TCM practitioners also caution against processed foods because of the demands they put on your digestion.

Alcohol: Skip the spirits when fighting a cold to allow your liver to focus on more important healing matters.

This originally appeared as “Feed a Cold” in the October 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

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