#7 totally shocked us!

Perri Ormont Blumberg
January 5, 2018

This cold and flu season, we're making a resolution to steer clear of the following foes, no matter how tempted that heart-shaped chocolate caramel may be. "When the body is fighting to stay well, it’s especially important to steer clear of additional insult to injury in the form of foods that spark inflammation, are dehydrating, or disrupt sleep," nutritionist Maggie Moon, author of The MIND Diet reminds us. Point taken, and candy drawer closed.

1. Alcohol

From cocktails to beer, it's imperative you hop off the wagon if you're fighting a cold or the flu. "Your body treats alcohol like a toxin and it requires a lot of your body’s resources to detoxify it, putting a large strain on the body at a time when all of your energy should go into healing and repairing itself," offer The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, nutritionists and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure.  "Alcohol also causes inflammation while weakening white blood cells.  It disrupts circadian rhythms, which means it interrupts sleep, something that is especially important—and that you need more of—when you’re trying to get over the flu."

2. Candy 

We know, we know, the Valentine's Day chocolates sure do tempt, but save the sweets for once you've fully recovered. 
Packed with sugar and devoid of nutrients, it causes inflammation in the body and inhibits phagocytosis, the process by which viruses and bacteria are engulfed and destroyed by white blood cells," say The Nutrition Twins. "It also tends to crowd out flu-fighting foods like fruits and vegetables." If you're really craving candy, try dark chocolate made of at least 70% cacao, which contains antioxidants good for your health.

3. Comfort food

Step away from the Shepherd's pie. "Any heavy or rich meal, loaded with animal products, sugars, and oils—such as a burger and fries, sugary cereal with milk, or a couple slices of pizza—forces the body to work hard to metabolize and digest, thereby taking away time and resources necessary for recovery," comments Julieanna Hever, nutritionist and author Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot's Guides). "On the contrary, foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes are high in easy-to-digest carbohydrates, fiber, and phytonutrients, which help improve immune function," she adds.

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4. Sports drinks

You may think these beverages are giving you energy to help combat being sick, but they're not. "Skip the sports drink and rehydrate with water, fruit, vegetables, and soup instead," advises Moon. "Most sports drinks contain pro-inflammatory added sugar, which tax the immune system and steal resources that should be dedicated to helping your body heal."

5. Fried food

We do apologize for being the bearer of bad news, but items like french fries, fried chicken and fried calamari are not your friends right now. "French fries [and other fried foods] cause inflammation in the body, unfavorably affect cholesterol levels and weaken the body, making it more difficult to fight the flu," share The Nutrition Twins. "Researchers have found that when people cut fried foods out of their bodies, markers of inflammation in their body decreased."

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6. Pepperoni pizza

Indeed, there will be time for pizza. Not now. "Your go-to slice can disrupt the immune system. It’s one of America’s top sources of saturated fat, according to the National Cancer Institute, [and it includes] pro-inflammatory refined grains, processed meat, and dehydrating hidden salt," says Moon. "According to a 2014 review paper from the National Institutes of Health, eating too much saturated fat disrupts toll-like receptors (TLR), proteins that defend the immune system."

7. Orange juice

Surprised? Us too. "You may seek a 'pick-me-up' with caffeine in your morning cup or crave the vitamin C in orange juice, but these acidic drinks are more likely to bother your stomach than help it," points out Rebecca Scritchfield, nutritionist and author of Body Kindness. Looking for something more interesting than plain water? Try hot water with grated ginger.  "It's more likely to soothe your stomach and ginger is anti-nausea."

8. Coffee or soda

"Caffeinated anything late in the day can make it harder to get the restful sleep you need even more when you’re sick. The same parts of the immune system that fight infection also cause fatigue," notes Moon. "According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, animal research found that getting more deep sleep improved chances of surviving a microbial infection. Try switching to warm herbal tea in the evenings while you’re on the mend." Also worth noting: "Added sugars found in sodas and juices (along with cookies and other processed foods) suppres immune function which may enable or exacerbate illness." Missing another Sunday tailgate? No thanks!