Few things are more devastating than a sore throat. On top of not being able to taste anything, the pain when trying to swallow food is pretty excruciating when your throat is irritated. It's always best to consult your doctor if a sore throat is truly unbearable or caused by something other than just an irritation (if it's bacterial, you may need medicine).
As for what you can eat while you wait it out? We turned to Beverly Hills concierge doctor Ehsan Ali, MD and experienced telemedicine physician Mia Finkelston, MD to break down for us what are the best foods that soothe a sore throat and what foods to avoid. Scroll down to see what they said below.
Meet the Expert
- Ehsan Ali, MD is a Beverly Hills concierge doctor and board-certified in internal medicine. He completed his medical education at New York University and is fellowship-trained in Geriatric Medicine.
- Mia Finkelston, MD is an experienced telemedicine physician and medical director for the Online Care Group.
Foods to Eat
Coconut oil isn't only beneficial in our haircare and skincare routines. It offers a host of health benefits that come in handy when dealing with a sore throat. According to a 2020 study, the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found primarily in coconut oil have healing powers that allow it to act as a natural antibiotic and help regulate immunity.
Warm Water with Honey
According to Ali, sipping on a blend of warm water and honey reduces inflammation. While warm water is soothing on its own, honey amps up its effectiveness. Research has shown that honey has significant medicinal benefits—it has antibacterial properties, and its high viscosity helps provide a protective barrier to prevent infection.
Garlic has long been suspected of having antimicrobial and antiviral properties that relieve common cold symptoms like a sore throat. "Since garlic is praised for its anti-inflammatory properties, I recommend some garlic whenever there is a sore throat," says Finkelston. "You can dip garlic bread into soup, shake a bit of garlic powder into a smoothie, or make pasta sauce with fresh garlic."
Cinnamon has been used for food and traditional medicine in Egyptian and Chinese communities since ancient times. The spice is known to have strong antioxidant, antibacterial, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties. You can blend cinnamon into a warm drink as a remedy for your sore throat.
When your throat is sensitive and irritated, it can be hard to swallow. Experts recommend drinking fluids and soft foods like mashed potatoes. "They are easy to swallow and are filling if you don't have much of an appetite. You can also easily add garlic," says Finkelston.
Warm Tea Soaked with Honey, Garlic, and Ginger
As previously mentioned, honey and garlic offer a host of throat-calming properties. Ginger is another ingredient worth looking into when you have a sore throat. It has been reported to decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. "Garlic and ginger are anti-inflammatory and soothe," says Ali. "I drink it three to four times per day when I have a sore throat. It also boosts your immune system."
Sipping on green tea can help you kick your sore throat, thanks to the many health benefits it offers. Compared to its counterparts, green tea is richer in antioxidants. Research has also found that the phytochemicals in green tea stimulate the central nervous system and maintain overall health in humans.
When you're not feeling your best, a warm bowl of soup often helps you feel better. "Any soup is good, but most people prefer the clearer, less thick soups when they are sick, as they are easier to consume," says Finkelston. "Soup is one of the easiest foods to get down when you're not feeling well, and it can be loaded with nutrition, which helps if you are eating less overall."
Macaroni and Cheese
We never need a reason to indulge ourselves with some macaroni and cheese, but a sore throat gives us another excuse to whip some up. "I also recommend macaroni and cheese for the same reasons as mashed potatoes—it's filling and easy to swallow if you have a sore throat," says Finkelston.
Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey tea is composed of black tea and bergamot essential oil. The bergamot found in Earl Grey tea has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and analgesic effects. It has been used in Italian traditional medicine for years to treat sore throats and other health conditions.
Foods to Avoid
For some people, consuming dairy may worsen your sore throat. In a previous study, participants were instructed to drink zero to 11 glasses of milk per day. According to the research, a trend was observed for cough, when present, to be loosely connected with increasing milk and dairy product intake.
If your meal plan typically includes a lot of acidic food, you may want to switch up your eating habits while you have a sore throat. "Although acidic foods help kill bacteria, they may actually worsen the discomfort with swallowing, as it will irritate the inflammation," says Ali.
Like acidic foods, spicy seasonings can increase your throat discomfort. Medical experts recommend refraining from consuming hot and spicy foods until your sore throat subsides.
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