For the last week I have been fighting off getting a cold. Chances are you’re probably coming down with one when you get that ole’ familiar scratchy feeling in the back of your throat and you start coughing. Add in a few sniffles and yup, the odds are pretty good!

Getting a cold couldn’t come at a worse time. I’m moving out of my condo this weekend. It’s not a good time to be run-down. I need every ounce of strength I can muster, and at the moment, I’m not feeling very full of muster.. So I thought I’d check out the old wives tale and see what the recommendation was (and hoped it wasn’t Feed a Fever, Starve a Cold!)

According to, Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold dates back to 1574 and was first penned by dictionary maker John Withals. The exact wording he used was ‘Fasting is a great remedie of feuer’”. Exactly how the phrase might have been intrepreted during that period we may never know. However it might have been that at that stage of medicine the thought was there were two kinds of illnesses, those caused by low temperatures (colds and chills) and those caused by high temperatures (fever). To cure a cold, it was thought that you should warm your body up by feeding it fuel. If you had a fever, you wanted to avoid overheating, so you were to cut down on the fuel your body was receiving.

Many sites said there wasn’t any validity to the phrase and the real importance was to stay hydrated and fed with essential vitamins and minerals to help the body fight the virus. However some researchers now think there is validity.

They say eating a meal boosts the type of immune response that destroys the viruses responsible for colds, while fasting stimulates the response that tackles the bacterial infections responsible for most fevers. In case anyone wants the scientific equivalent of the previous statement: “After a meal, the average level of the cytokine gamma interferon (INF-gamma) in the blood of six volunteers increased by 450%. INF-gamma stimulates the body’s defense against chronic infections that are associated with colds. INF-gamma triggers the release of killer white blood cells, which destroy infected cells.Volunteers who did not eat a meal had low INF-gamma levels but far higher concentrations of another cytokine called interleukin-4(IL-4). IL-4 is associated with the production of antibodies, the protein molecules that form the front line defense against acute infections, the kinds that most often produce fevers”.

Of course another site (who debunked validity to the phrase) suggested it was a good opportunity to get a few more twinkies! Hmm, make it one of the raspberry coconut Sno Balls and I’m game!


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