We can all remember those times when our mom used to tell us to stop eating so much ice cream otherwise we’d get sick. Not that it stopped many of us from enjoying ice cream as kids, but is there any truth behind this?
The Science Behind a Cold
Before we can answer the question of whether ice creams can cause a cold, let us first unwrap what happens when we catch a cold in general. A cold begins as a cold virus. This virus can be spread through physical contact with another person with a cold or through contaminated items of the sick person. It can also be spread through air droplets from the sick person who has coughed, sneezed, or simply just talked.
Once this cold virus has passed from one person to the next, chances are, the next person catches the cold and also gets sick. Despite its name, the common symptom of a cold actually includes a raised temperature. Other symptoms include a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, and head and body aches, just to name a few.
So, can you actually catch a cold by eating ice cream?
Based on the science behind colds, the answer is no. Many studies have shown that ice cream doesn’t help in catching a cold and the answer lies in how cold viruses spread. You can only catch a cold if you catch the virus that causes it. Unless you’re sharing ice cream with someone who has a cold, there’s no evidence that ice cream itself can give you a cold.
The decreased temperature can, surely?
Another argument that can be brought to the table is if ice cream doesn’t necessarily cause a cold, it can surely make it worse by decreasing your temperature, right? Having ice cream itself or cold drinks and dishes doesn’t cause drastic effects on one’s body temperature, and therefore cannot possibly make it worse.
Even if you’re feeling cold and having ice cream, this does not cause a cold. Remember, you can only catch a cold when you catch the virus.
How about the dairy?
Beyond the temperature, another argument could be the dairy. Ice cream is usually dairy-based and is often said to have worsened mucus production for a runny nose. Milk is also said to make phlegm thicker. Is there any truth behind this?
James Steckelberg, M.D., a consultant in the division of infectious diseases and a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, has actually said that though milk does thicken mucus, it doesn’t cause it to produce more. In fact, the doctor actually recommends having some dairy in a form of soups and ice cream to soothe symptoms such as the sore throat.