Nutrition Misconceptions: Milk and Mucus, Ditching the Salt Shaker and Cheese and Constipation

Hi guys! How was your weekend?!

When Stephanie did another one of her fabulous myth-busting posts on Friday, I realized it had been awhile since I had chatted about some nutrition misconceptions. So I found myself doing some research this weekend and enjoying every second – it’s almost like doing a treasure hunt! ha. I’ve done a couple of similar posts in the past (the first and the second) so here is instalment three.


1. Milk increases mucus production 

I remember being told time and time again when I was a kid to cut out cow’s milk when I had a cold so that I wouldn’t produce even more mucus. So my ears perked up when I learned in class last year that milk has not, in fact, been linked to increased mucus production in research settings (this study and this study). And very interestingly, in this double-blind trial, subjects were given cow’s milk and a similar-tasting soy-based placebo and ended up reporting that their saliva felt more thick and hard to swallow from both beverages. I suppose this could mean that any beverage of that nature makes for a more thick-feeling saliva OR that placebo effect has a lot to do with why the milk-mucus notion continues to be propagated.

Of course if you have really noticed a correlation between milk and worsened/extended colds, then cutting it out makes every bit of sense, regardless of the studies’ findings. But I have personally realized since learning this tidbit that I see no difference when I continue consuming milk when I have a cold.

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2. Cheese causes constipation 

While we’re on the topic of dairy, raise your hand if you’ve heard cheese and constipation in the same sentence one thousand times (mine is way raised). Contrary to this common association, my current understanding is that no one food can really CAUSE constipation. Of course, if cheese is occupying a huge part of the diet and consequently there is little room left for fiber-rich foods, there could certainly be a link, but not one that’s as direct as it’s often made out to be. Aside from this small-scale study though, I haven’t found really hard evidence for either side of the argument.

So once again, try to be be in tune with your body if constipation is something you struggle with. If you really notice negative ramifications when you up your cheese intake, then by all means consider reducing or eliminating it. But just keep in mind that there’s a very complex network of factors involved in digestive transit time, so try to consider other factors before immediately blaming cheese.

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3. If we’re trying to reduce salt, we should put away the shaker

We hear so much about reducing our salt consumption and I think people’s first inclination when trying to do so is to cut back on their use of the salt shaker at meal time. And while that strategy certainly does reduce overall sodium intake, it’s been reported that for most of us, a pretty small percentage of our total sodium intake comes from the salt we add to our own food. A whopping 75% of it comes from fast-food, pre-packaged and processed foods (source). When I first heard that statistic, I sort of brushed it off, thinking that most of that must be from french fries and cheeseburgers, neither of which are regular occurrences in my diet. But even things like store-bought breads and soups are huge contributors.

This is a really nice document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about where our sodium comes from and tips for reducing it. The last thing I want to do is give you anxiety about how much salt you’re intaking or to encourage you to start scrutinizing your consumption. It’s just something to be aware of!

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Before I sign off, I just wanted to mention that despite what may come across as some heavy pushing for dairy consumption in this post, I believe that we can be perfectly healthy with zero dairy. I simply wanted to present some facts that I feel get propagated non factually!

Did any of these surprise you?! 

12 thoughts on “Nutrition Misconceptions: Milk and Mucus, Ditching the Salt Shaker and Cheese and Constipation

  1. I <3 dairy. As someone who has IBS-C, cheese is definitely not one of my trigger foods thankfully!
    Have you read any of the studies that discuss salt sensitivity? Apparently only part of the population is salt sensitive and it is typically the people with a history of hypertension. Most of our kidneys can filter salt just tine. I guess what we need to worry about is protecting our kidneys, so this will continue to be the case.
    I love how you provide links to the studies where you get your info. Very nice!!

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  2. Very interesting (and timely)! I’ve heard so many negative things about dairy that it has made me a little biased. Thanks for clearing up the misconception!

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  3. I like these debunking the myths type posts. I may have to join in soon! As nutrition practitioners, we have to be up to date with the research – it is so important. Thanks for sharing! I’m a dairy lover so I love seeing you provide evidence against these common assumptions. Thanks Jacklyn!

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  4. I have heard all of these things and I tend to be skeptical of findings because they change back and forth so often depending on who has done the research.

    Happy Monday Jacklyn! :)

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  5. Together, we will build up so many posts about nutritional misconceptions , and debunk so many myths! Woohoo!! It’s funny because I learnt about the mucus and milk myth in our program, I had never heard about it before! The salt one is very interesting as well :)

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  6. I love posts like this! The sodium thing was a real heads-up and a great reminder that we should try to eat more unprocessed, home-cooked meals when we can. Also, the cheese thing was interesting. Probably TMI but recently I’ve been having problems with you-know-what and blamed the large amount of cheddar, brie, goat cheese, parmesan, etc. (yup the list goes on) that I’ve been enjoying recently. I’m going to do a little experimenting with more fiber/less dairy and see how that goes with my body. Who knew that cheese wasn’t the only cause? Thank you so much!

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