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Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever — the Truth Behind the Myth

Posted by     on February 26, 2019

Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever — Truth Behind the Myth

What do you feed, and what do you starve?

You’ve probably heard the old saying “starve a cold, feed a fever.” Or is it “starve a fever, feed a cold”? If you can’t remember which way the saying goes, don’t worry. The truth is, both are wrong.

The feed/starve advice is a myth.

There is a long history of outdated medical advice that still circulates in the modern day, but you should know that in cases of illness – whether fever or cold – starving is never the answer. Eating less when you’re sick can be dangerous. Your body requires energy to create immune cells to fight off disease, and calories are what gives your body that energy. So you should, in fact, make sure to eat nutritious food for both a fever and a cold. Additionally, for a fever it is important to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Where did this myth come from?

The saying likely dates back to 1574, when John Withals published a dictionary that claimed fasting to be a “great remedy for fever.” The belief at the time was that eating food may help the body generate warmth during a “cold” and that avoiding food may help it cool down when overheated.

What if you lack an appetite?

Loss of appetite when you’re sick is common. This may even be part of the body’s attempt to focus its energy on pounding the pathogens. You shouldn’t force yourself to eat, but eat when you are able. Most importantly, drink to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, because they will further dehydrate you.

Visit your doctor as needed.

If you’re having trouble fighting off a bug, visit your doctor. At Stellar Health & Wellness, you’ll find experienced and caring professionals, all with a special passion for working with women and their families to help them achieve optimal health. Call us today at 503-344-6631 to schedule an appointment or to become a new patient, fill out our New Patient Application here.

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