Ask Dr. Nandi: Should you really feed a cold and starve a fever?

Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 16:44:58-04

Is feed a cold, starve a fever an old wives’ tale or is there any evidence to back this up?

You should always feed both a cold and a fever. Starving is not recommended. Proper nutrition and hydration is crucial not only for recovery, but also for prevention.

How much food you eat when you’re sick varies - a child needs more because they don’t have the same fat stores as adults. However it’s very common to lose your appetite when you’re ill.  So don’t force yourself to eat if you’re nauseous or vomiting. But you should never intentionally avoid food because calories support your weakened body when it’s sick. 

Our bodies depend on water to survive as every organ needs this to work properly. And when you’re sick, your body needs even more fluids. It not only helps fight infections, but the hotter you fever is, the more energy your body will use. You need to replace the lost energy with sugar and electrolytes, otherwise it can be very dangerous. 

Partha’s RX

  1. It’s best if you avoid high-fat foods.  These are typically filled with saturated fat and may upset your body’s good and bad bacteria balance.
  2. Eat high-fiber foods all year round as they contain antioxidants and vitamins like A and C.  They can aid in recovery from cold and flus, and help prevent them too.
  3. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids.  Juice or soup broth are excellent options as they replenish energy and lost sweat.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can dehydrate you.

Chicken soup is not a miracle cure, but it does have many dietary benefits. It provides your body with much-needed calories and salt. It can help break down mucus and open up your sinuses.

Research suggests it can help with inflammation which may improve your symptoms. And many people can eat a small bowl full even if they don’t have much of an appetite.