Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever?

Wives' tales are way older than we are and "starve a cold feed a fever" is one of the oldest. This old saying has been dated all the way back to the 1500s in print. It was said that starving could cure your cold and feeding would heal your fever. The other version of the tale is "feed a cold, starve a fever". Are the old sayings right? This article will help bring new light to this age-old school thought and may make you think twice about robbing your body of important nutrients.

Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever: True or False?

The old saying is half right. Never take important nutrients away when you’re ill, whether it's a cold or fever. Food and nutrients help your body perform at its best whether you are healthy or sick. When you're having a cold or fever, your body needs calories and nutrient dense foods to fight off the illness and help you recover faster. It may even help keep you from getting sick in the first place. Some vitamins and minerals are very important to your body during times of illness. Read on for the best things to eat when you’re not feeling well.

What Are the Correct Ways to Deal with Cold and Fever?

When you're having a cold or fever, try to get some easy-to-swallow foods that are nutrient dense down, along with plenty of fluids. Getting the proper nutrients can help you recover quicker and boost your immune system. Here are some tips to give your body what it needs to feel better:

1. Prevent Dehydration

The first and most important thing when you have a cold and fever is to drink plenty of water. Fever will take fluids from your body and you will need to replace them often. Things that are good for replacing fluids include:

  • Electrolyte replacement drinks
  • Juices (apple, orange, cranberry, etc.)
  • Full sugar soda for calories
  • Herbal tea
  • Lemon and honey water
  • Ice pops

During the first few days of illness, you may not feel like eating at all. Try to get fluids down even if it is just a few sips every hour. This will help loosen any congestion and stuffy nose.

2. Take Some Supplements

Instead of trying to starve a cold feed a fever, give your body the vitamins it needs. Take extra vitamin C and zinc when you have a virus infection. These supplements help boost your immune system to fight the virus. Also, Echinacea may have an anti-viral effect and reduce the amount of time you’re sick.

3. Eat Liquid Food

There are plenty of liquid foods that can provide you with nutrients, calories and vitamins all in one. Try things like:

  • Chicken or beef broth
  • Instant breakfast powder
  • Milkshakes
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Warm unset gelatin
  • Ice cream

4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate your body and they only contain "empty" calories that don’t feed you. Try to drink caffeine-free sodas, tea and coffee when you are sick and save the wine for when you feel better.

5. Try the Chicken Soup "Cure"

You may remember your grandmother making chicken soup when someone had a cold. While this isn’t a "miracle cure", it does have all the necessary things to help you feel better. Hot steaming soup can loosen congestion. It can also add protein for cell recovery, calories for energy and lots of vitamins from veggies.

Other Old Tales About Cold and Fever

Other than "starve a cold feed a fever", there are some other old wives’ tales that go along with colds. Here are the facts that go with them:

1. Stay in Bed

Take a rest when you feel weak or tired, but you don't need to stay in bed whenever you have a cold. Some low intense exercises and physical activities can actually help you feel better faster. Studies show that people who did some mild exercises during a cold recovered faster than people who rested during the cold. It isn’t advised to do heavy workouts though. Keep it light with walking or gentle yoga.

2. Don’t Eat Dairy Products

Some people believe that dairy may increase mucus in your body. In studies, people who drank cow’s milk vs. soy milk had the exact same amount of mucus production. Drinking a glass of milk wouldn't make you stickier. But you need to stay away if it makes you uncomfortable since some may be allergic to dairy products.

3. Use Your Hand to Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

Perhaps you’ve been told to cover your mouth with your hand when you cough or sneeze. Recently, it has been found that using your hands actually spreads germs if you don’t immediately wash your hands afterwards. The cold virus lives in the airborne droplets that come out when you sneeze, so your hands just give them a ride to somewhere else. It is better to use a tissue or bring in the inside of your elbow that doesn’t come into contact with other surfaces or people. 

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