The saying "feed a cold, starve a fever" has been traced to a 1574 dictionary by John Withals, which noted that "fasting is a great remedy of fever." The belief is that eating food may help the body generate warmth during a "cold" and that avoiding food may help it cool down when overheated.
If you're not quite sure how this saying goes, you can relax: Starving is never the correct answer.
The truth, according to researchers, suggests that eating less during the early stages of an infection can actually be dangerous:
- The body requires large amounts of energy to create and assemble the large number of immune cells necessary to fight the enemy.
- Good nutrition and calories provide this energy.
Physicians and experts stand by traditional recommendations for colds and flu over the starve-a-fever adage:
- Drink plenty of fluids to replace lost electrolytes.
- Eat if you're hungry.
- Drink water or drinks with added electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte.
Keyword: feed cold starve fever