Greg’s Guide to Milk and Phlegm

I’ve been told not to drink milk products when you have a cold because they cause phlegm and thus make you more sick. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with that logic so I decided to do some research.

What is phlegm?

Phlegm is an expelled blob of mucus produced by respiratory tract lining cells, infection causing organisms and immune wastes. Phlegm is not always green, it could be in all shades of green-yellow and also white. In fact the colour of phlegm is the first indicator of what kind of infection you have. If the infection is bacterial, it is in the shades of greenish yellow, if the infection is viral, it is white to cream. This is a broad indicator before a phlegm analysis confirms.

Why do we produce phlegm?

Your body produces phlegm to expel immune waste and thus it is important for your body to produce phlegm and for your body to expel this immune waste. A little more research reviled that an easy way to expel this phlegm with steam. Steam loosens up the phlegm and makes it easier to expel, this is why you cough more when you have a hot shower.

How does milk effect phlegm?

The fat content in dairy products can thicken mucus that is already present. Generally eating dairy products with less fat content is helpful. Drinking plenty of water will help to thin the mucus so that it moves more easily.

Is milk bad for you when you have a cold?

Phlegm is an immune reactions and it is important for your body to repair itself. Phlegm suppressants like cold and flu tables stop your bodies natural immune reactions and while making you feel better can actually do more harm than good. The myth that milk actually produces phlegm is incorrect, as stated above it merely thickens phlegm. Thick phlegm is harder for the body to expel immune waste. So milk does not produce phlegm but it does inhibit your bodies natural immune response and as such is not good for you when you have a cold. Non alcoholic & non caffeine fluids such as water is a better option.