Milk Myth: Drinking Milk Causes Mucus

Myth: Drinking Milk Causes Mucus

Milk Myth


Myth Buster: Milk consumption does not lead to mucus production or asthma.

The belief has been held for years that milk causes mucus formation, although the few studies on this topic have failed to demonstrate any effect of milk on mucus production. Many people confuse the temporary, slight thickening of saliva after drinking milk with mucus. There is no scientific research showing that milk produces mucus in the airways or the throat. It will not worsen cold or asthma symptoms. In fact, although many people reduce milk intake when they have a cold, one clinical trial showed milk and dairy food intake was not associated with an increase in upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms of congestion.1 Studies have found milk intake was not associated with increased nasal secretions, coughing, nose symptoms or congestion.2,3 Some doctors say that milk thickens saliva, which may coat the throat and give the perception of more mucus, but it does not cause the body to produce more mucus or phlegm.

Furthermore, milk may actually contribute to speeding up recovery, as drinking lots of fluids when you have a cold is important. Frozen dairy foods and fruit smoothies may soothe a sore throat and provide important calories and nutrients when you are not eating much else.

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1Pinnock CB, Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 Feb;141(2):352-6.
2Wüthrich B et al. J Amer Coll Nutr 2005; 24:6:547S