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Feed a Cold Starve a Fever: Fact or Fiction?

The CDC states there are millions of cases of the common cold in the US every year. On average, adults have 2 to 3 colds each year and children experience even more. It’s unknown how many people suffer from fevers.

So now, the age-old question is, should you “feed a cold starve a fever”? Or is it starve a cold and feed a fever? Is this even helpful?

Continue reading this article to learn more about this idiom.

When Did the “Feed a Cold Starve a Fever” Advice Begin?

This quote is, in fact, a misquote from the 1574 reference manual by John Withals. The actual quote is “Fasting is a great remedie for feuer”.

Feuer is the medieval word for fever. So the confusion began in the 1500s. But how can this advice really cure anything?

Is Starving Yourself During Illness a Good Idea?

Starving a fever may originate from the belief that eating affected body temperature. If you had a cold, your body was actually cold. Thus, you should eat to warm up the body.

If you had a fever, not eating would cool your body down. Today we know that colds and fevers are caused by viruses and bacteria.

When you are ill, proper nutrition is even more crucial to fight infections. You must also drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Many individuals do not feel like eating or drinking when they are sick. Thus, you need to eat and drink on a schedule to ensure your body is getting what it needs. Malnutrition decreases the immune system’s effectiveness and makes it harder to get well.

Food to Help You Get Well

Depending on your ailment, your choice of foods may vary. For example, if you are having a stomachache and/or diarrhea, the “BRAT” diet is helpful. This includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

If you have a cold, you may also have a sore throat. In this case, you will want to avoid hard, rough, or spicy foods that can aggravate your sore throat. One of the most important health tips for a cold is to hydrate.

Drink fluids such as water, hot tea, and sports drinks. This can help thin out mucus and boost your immune system. If you have a fever, you can become dehydrated which makes you even sicker.

Reasons to Consider Choosing Green Tea

Green tea contains polyphenols which are potent plant antioxidants. Antioxidants help to boost the immune system function. In particular, green teach contains catechins that may help kill influenza viruses.

To achieve the most benefit, heat the water to just below the boiling point. Then steep the green tea for no longer than one to two minutes.

Lemon and/or honey can be added to soften the bitterness of the tea. Adding milk can result in the binding of the milk proteins and the polyphenols. This negates the positive effect of the tea on the immune system.

Is Grandma’s Chicken Soup Beneficial?

Chicken soup does, in fact, help with healing. Hot chicken soup can help loosen up nasal secretions and rid your body of viruses and bacteria. The liquid helps you stay hydrated and warms your airways to loosen the chest mucus.

In 2000, CHEST published a study suggesting that chicken soup has mild anti-inflammatory effects. Colds often cause swelling in the upper part of the respiratory tract. The body sends white blood cells (WBCs) to areas of inflammation to help with healing.

While WBCs respond to perceived attacks, they contribute to the increased congestion. In this study, scientists found that fewer WBCs moved through chicken soup than through other liquid. Thus, by slowing the migration of WBCs, chicken soup helps relieve cold symptoms.

Benefits of Yogurt and Sauerkraut

Yogurt and sauerkraut contain “good bacteria”. These bacteria, called probiotics, help to boost your immune system.

The National Yogurt Association places a “Live & Active Cultures” seal on yogurt that has a minimum amount of two specific probiotics. Look for this seal when shopping for yogurt containing probiotics.

You can now also find probiotic cereals and granola bars. Eating these foods is a good practice in sickness and in health.

Importance of Vitamin D

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied children who took vitamin D supplements (1,200 IU) daily. They found that these children had a 40% lower incidence of contracting the common flu virus.

The researchers surmised that vitamin D helped the immune cells find and destroy the bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Small amounts of vitamin D occurs naturally in fatty fish, such as salmon and fortified milk. Your body also makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun.

Difference Between Generic and Brand Name Medications

When you go to the store to get medicine for your cold or fever, should you get a generic or brand name? Both brand medications and their generic equivalent have the same chemical called the “active ingredient”. Always compare the active ingredient content when making a comparison.

There is a common difference between generics and brand name medications. This involves the fillers used in the manufacturing process. Some individuals can have side effects related to these fillers.

All FDA drug approval applications require the medication’s generic name. The brand name is created by the pharmaceutical company to market the medication. This naming takes place after the medication has FDA approval.

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