This week's 'Ask Evan' question comes from Ann L in Lancaster County. Ann asks- "I recently got the flu and my mother told me I needed to feed a cold and starve a fever. I'm wondering if this is a wives tale or if there is any medical truth to this?"
The origin of 'feed a cold and starve a fever' actually goes back to the 1500`s when writer John Withals suggested that fasting would cure a fever. The belief is that eating would activate digestive processes which would lead to more fever because digestion would take away a body`s energy to fight fever. So, it was thought that eating less would stop stoking the heat of a fever. At the time, common colds were blamed on a drop in body temperature, which could be helped by eating and drinking.
However, research shows the opposite may be true-- that eating fewer calories may actually make it more difficult for your body to fight off the flu virus. Good nutrition and calories actually provides the body with energy needed to create and assemble the large number of immune cells necessary to fight illness. The body also requires additional fluids above the norm in the presence of illness, including colds or flu.
So, experts say cold or flu-- fever or not-- drink plenty of fluids to replace lost electrolytes, eat well-balanced meals when you're hungry and get plenty of rest.