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Drinking Habits to Avoid If You Have Omicron, Says Doctor

Think you need to reach for the orange juice? Think again!

When you come down with illness, what are the types of foods you tend to go for? Soup is likely a go-to because it's comforting, hydrating, and nutrient-dense. Orange juice is probably another you are used to drinking while sick, and likely one you think to turn to if you come down with Omicron—an infectious variant of COVID-19 that has swept through the entire world. However, according to one doctor, citrus-based beverages like orange juice actually aren't the type of food you want to consume if you end up testing positive for COVID-19.

Robert G. Lahita MD, Ph.D. ("Dr. Bob"), Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of Immunity Strong, shares his reasoning behind this theory, along with other a few drinking habits to avoid if you end up coming down with Omicron. Here's what he recommends, and for more of his immunity tips, read up on The Best Foods to Eat for Omicron Symptoms, Says Doctor.

Drinking citrus-based beverages

orange juice glass

While it may be unclear if orange juice can actually help with warding off a cold, in the cas of Omicron, it's actually not the beverage you want to reach for. Even though orange juice is high in vitamin C and potassium—both essential nutrients for illness recovery—the acidic nature of orange juice will actually cause even more discomfort if you are sick with Omicron.

It all leads back to a severe sore throat, which is one of the major symptoms you will experience if you come down with this COVID-19 variant.

"Foods that consist of citrus and foods that are a little bit tart, it will be very, very difficult to swallow," says Dr. Bob. "This is all with the Omicron variant—with an extreme sore throat. It will be difficult to swallow some of these foods."

Instead, Dr. Bob suggests starting "very gently with soft foods like yogurt and other probiotics."

Drinking alcohol

woman drinking red wine

While Dr. Bo does note that people who are sick have increased nutritional requirements (meaning they may need to consume more calories, for example), drinking alcohol is not a solution for adding more calories to your diet while sick.

"That's not a really good idea if your throat is really sore," says Dr. Bob. "That alcohol is going to burn your throat."

Soothing drinks—like shakes, for example—are a recommended food from Dr. Bob that can boost your calorie intake, provide you with some protein from the milk (or additional protein powder), but not cause more pain to your throat when you have Omicron.

Forgetting about electrolytes


Rehydrating your body is massively important when you have Omicron, which is why Dr. Bob suggests grabbing a drink that's high in electrolytes.

"Something like Gatorade or something that you can drink like water so as not to irritate your sore throat," says Dr. Bob. "It's always good to make sure there are some electrolytes—particularly if you have diarrhea and you're vomiting. If you have electrolytes—which Gatorade provides—and other nutritional drinks, so you're not running low on potassium and your sodium levels stay normal."

Not hydrating at all

drinking water

Forgetting to drink anything at all can cause severe dehydration when you're fighting off a disease like Omicron, so it's important to ensure you're getting fluids if you end up testing positive.

According to the American Society for Parental and Eternal Nutrition, hydration plays an important role in recovery from COVID-19. Because the body is working intensely to fight off disease—like fighting a high fever and a revved-up metabolism—your body will be in need of hydrating. Not drinking anything isn't supporting your body's ability to fight the virus and to support your immune function.

Here's The #1 Unexpected Food To Eat If You Have Omicron, Says Doctor.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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