The Best (and Worst) Foods to Soothe a Sore Throat

Sore Throat

A sore throat can be a pesky and uncomfortable ailment that often accompanies the common cold or other respiratory infections. While there is no magic cure for a sore throat, certain foods can help alleviate the discomfort and promote healing. On the other hand, some foods can exacerbate the pain and prolong the recovery process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best (and worst) foods to soothe a sore throat, allowing you to make informed choices and feel better faster.


The Best Foods to Soothe a Sore Throat

Warm Liquids:

Drinking warm liquids is a highly effective method to alleviate the discomfort of a sore throat. Herbal teas, clear broths, and warm water with honey and lemon are excellent choices. These soothing liquids not only provide immediate relief but also help reduce inflammation and maintain moisture in the throat, minimizing irritation and discomfort. They even assist in thinning mucus, making it easier to expel and promoting faster recovery.


Honey, a natural remedy renowned for its antibacterial and soothing properties, works wonders for a sore throat. When consumed, honey forms a protective coating in the throat, which not only reduces coughing but also provides much-needed relief. For optimal benefits, mix a teaspoon of honey in warm water or herbal tea. However, it's crucial to note that honey should never be given to children under the age of one due to the risk of botulism.

Chicken Soup:

Chicken soup has long been hailed for its comforting qualities, but its benefits go beyond that. This age-old remedy possesses mild anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate congestion and soothe a sore throat. Moreover, the warm broth provides essential hydration, a vital component for a swift recovery. The combination of nutrients and fluids in chicken soup not only supports the immune system but also aids in the healing process.

Popsicles and Smoothies:

When it comes to sore throats, cold foods like popsicles and smoothies can offer temporary numbing relief. Opt for fruit-based popsicles or smoothies that are not overly acidic, as highly acidic foods can further irritate the throat. By incorporating ingredients such as bananas, yogurt, and honey, you can enhance both the nutritional value and the soothing properties of these delightful treats.

Soft Foods:

When your throat is sore, it is advisable to stick to a diet consisting of soft, easy-to-swallow foods. Examples of such foods include mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and well-cooked pasta. These gentle and nourishing options provide essential sustenance without causing discomfort. Additionally, incorporating soft fruits like bananas and cooked vegetables ensures a well-rounded and balanced diet during the recovery period, further aiding in the healing process.


The Worst Foods for a Sore Throat

Spicy Foods:

It is important to note that spicy foods, such as chili peppers and hot sauces, should be avoided when you have a sore throat. The heat and spice in these foods can irritate an already inflamed throat, exacerbating the pain and discomfort. The compound capsaicin, which is found in spicy foods, can trigger a burning sensation and further increase the discomfort. To ensure a faster recovery, it is best to steer clear of spicy foods until your throat has fully healed.

Citrus Fruits:

While citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are packed with vitamin C, they are also high in acidity. This high acid content can irritate a sore throat and further inflame the delicate lining of the throat, causing additional discomfort. It is advisable to avoid consuming citrus fruits until your throat has fully recovered. However, if you are in need of vitamin C, there are alternative sources such as strawberries, kiwis, or even vitamin C supplements that can provide the necessary nutrients without aggravating your throat.

Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages:

When dealing with a sore throat, it is crucial to stay hydrated. However, it is best to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages during this time. Caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body, making it more difficult for your throat to heal. Furthermore, these beverages can irritate the throat and worsen the pain and discomfort. It is recommended to steer clear of coffee, tea, alcohol, and carbonated drinks until your throat feels better. Instead, opt for soothing herbal teas or infused water to keep yourself hydrated without causing further irritation.

Crunchy or Scratchy Foods:

Foods that are crunchy or scratchy in texture, such as chips, crackers, and toast, can scrape against the delicate tissues of the throat, causing further irritation and discomfort. It is advisable to avoid these types of foods until your throat has healed. Instead, focus on consuming soft and easily chewable foods that won't aggravate the soreness or cause any additional pain. Examples of such foods include mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, and tender meats.

Dairy Products:

While dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream can be a source of valuable nutrition, they can also increase mucus production for some individuals. This excess mucus can lead to congestion and throat discomfort. If you notice that consuming dairy worsens your symptoms or increases your discomfort, it is best to avoid dairy products until you feel better. However, it's important to note that not everyone experiences this effect, so if dairy products do not exacerbate your symptoms, they can still be included in your diet to provide necessary nutrition during your recovery period.


Additional Tips for Soothing a Sore Throat

Saltwater Gargle:

One effective method for temporary relief of a sore throat is gargling with warm saltwater. To prepare the solution, dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. The salt acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing inflammation in the throat, and can also help flush out bacteria or irritants that may be causing discomfort.

Herbal Remedies:

Throughout history, certain herbal remedies have been used to soothe sore throats. Herbs such as slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root are well-known for their throat-coating properties, providing a soothing effect. Look for lozenges or herbal teas that contain these herbs and follow the recommended dosage to experience their soothing benefits.

Moisture and Humidity:

Dry air can exacerbate a sore throat, so it is important to maintain a moist environment. Using a humidifier or vaporizer can help add moisture to the air, particularly in your bedroom while you sleep. This helps prevent your throat from becoming dry and more prone to irritation, promoting a quicker recovery.

Rest and Hydration:

Proper rest and hydration play a vital role in the healing process. Getting adequate rest allows your body to direct its energy towards recovery, while staying hydrated helps thin mucus and keeps your throat lubricated. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and consider using a humidifier in your bedroom to prevent dryness while you rest.

Over-the-Counter Remedies:

Over-the-counter pain relievers and throat sprays can provide temporary relief from the discomfort of a sore throat. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation, providing some relief. Throat sprays containing numbing agents like benzocaine can offer fast-acting relief by temporarily numbing the affected area.

Avoid Irritants:

In addition to being mindful of your food choices, it is crucial to avoid other irritants that can worsen a sore throat. Tobacco smoke, polluted air, and strong chemical fumes can all irritate the throat and impede the healing process. Minimizing exposure to these irritants allows your throat to heal more effectively, promoting a faster recovery and reducing discomfort.



While there is no cure for a sore throat, consuming the right foods can help alleviate the discomfort and promote healing. Warm liquids, honey, chicken soup, popsicles, and soft foods can provide relief and aid in recovery. On the other hand, spicy foods, citrus fruits, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, crunchy or scratchy foods, and dairy products should be avoided as they can exacerbate the pain and prolong healing. Remember to stay hydrated and consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen. By making wise food choices, you can soothe your sore throat and get back to feeling your best in no time.

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