Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?

"Feed a cold, starve a fever" – this saying is something that we have been listening from our moms and grandmas since ever since we were children. Common colds and fevers are the most common diseases that humans across the globe suffer. In fact, they are so common that we always sometimes avoid drugs and medicines, and search instant relief in home medications. And with such home remedies come different sets of myths and misconceptions regarding colds and fever. Needless to say, that has us wonder whether following them actually treats us, or whether it’s all just some tales made by bored women. So, how correct is the saying above? Does it really help? Let’s look into the matter scientifically.

Origin of "Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever"

Just like every other thing, people tend to believe in almost everything that has been told to them by the women of their houses. Diseases are no exception.

In relation to colds and fever, people have a perception that eating activates one’s digestive processes, paving a way to a fever. So, most of their energy is used in the digestive process and very little of the remaining is made available for the fight against impending fever.

Besides, back in the 16th century, it was believed that a drop in the thermostat was the reason behind a cold, and to get rid of it, one must eat a lot. Hence, people were fed plentifully when cold occurs. However, with high temperatures, they were mainly starved to bring their temperature to normal.

Even though origin is centuries old, a lot of today’s moms are adamant that their children follow this theory, believing that just like their on-spot tip for cuts and damages, even colds and fevers can be cured with their “mom-approved” tips.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever – Is It True?

If we look through the scientific and medical possibilities, this statement is half true. Feeding well during a cold is a really good treatment process but starving while in fever can make matters much worse. So, feed your body well, regardless of whether it has a fever or a cold.

What to Eat for Cold

During colds, our body needs surplus levels or energy to fight off the germs and virus, so we should have plenty of healthy nutrients in our system. The heat generation during our digestion process is also helpful in balancing the temperature. But under any circumstance we must not overeat, as eating in an unbalanced manner can make our body turn them into unnecessary fats.

What to Eat for Fever

If we look through the reasons for eating in fever, we will find interesting patterns in it. We all know that fever is just a symptom that shows the foreign insurgency in our body and attempts made by our immune system to fight them. In fever, our immune system raises the body temperature, elevating metabolism and boost of energy in the system. Thus eating is of utter importance during fevers, even more than when in a cold. So, the saying "feed a cold, starve a fever"should only be half-followed.

Drinking Fluids Is Vital

Other than eating, drinking is also a very crucial factor in shooing away these diseases. One should drink plentiful to fight off dehydration that comes as an unfortunate by-product of high temperatures during fever and the loss of body fluids during colds. Dehydration has a deep effect on our body, even deeper than what is visible. It clogs sinuses and respiratory tubes as an effect of drying up of mucus in nose, throat and lungs, thus making it difficult to throw the germs out of our system. Drinking fluids is a must at all time, sick or not.

But then, the most important factor is the loss of appetite one suffers in colds and fever, making it difficult to have appropriate diets, thus taking up fluids becomes important. Additionally, one must avoid caffeine as a mode of fluid as it elevated the rate of dehydration. The same goes for alcohol, so one must not look for such options to replace other healthy fluids. So, one should convert "feed a cold, starve a fever" into "fluid up in cold, fluid up in fever".

What to Eat When You're Sick

Now, when we know that we need to keep ourselves full with cold or fever, it leaves us with one very important question- what should we eat?

Here are some sure-shot options that will provide you with instant relief.

1. Broth-Based Soup

What could be better than a tasty yet healthy soup to fight off your cold and fever? If you ask for a specific choice, many will suggest you go for a chicken noodle soup that contains an amino acid called cysteine that helps in thinning of collected mucus in the lungs and the vapors can clear your nose, kill dehydration and fight down throat inflammation. Next time you suffer from cold or fever, wrap yourself in a warm blanket and sip up your favorite soup.

2. Tea

Remember those times when you mom used to bring you a cup of tea in the mornings? While morning tea is a refreshing choice, it carries medicinal properties as well, killing off mucus coagulation during nights. Hot tea is another common option for colds and fevers, but for cutting down caffeine go for green tea instead. Green tea is full of antioxidants that help in proper channelization of fluids in our system, thus keeping us hydrated.

3. Citrus fruits

It may be surprising, but vitamin C present in tangy fruits has got nothing to do with the fight against colds. However, the white layer of skin that envelops oranges, lemons (most commonly known as zest) is rich in flavonoids that boost our immune system and helps us recover fast. So, aim for the exterior rather than the interiors of the tangerines the next time you fall sick.

4. Popsicles

Since we have known that proper eating and drinking are important in cold and fever and the saying "feed a cold, starve a fever" is only half. We have to diversify our diets to speed the healing process. Full of fruit juice, popsicles are another tasty yet good way to fight off colds and fevers by helping you stay hydrated. And the most important factor is that it goes easy on your throat without making you struggle much.

5. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods are quick on tongues and taste buds, making you tear up within seconds. But these are also one of the best options to clear up clogged mucus from our nasal and lungs, killing congestion. So, stock up your kitchen with chili peppers, horseradish or wasabi to get instant relief during colds. 

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