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Feed A Fever, Starve A Cold?

Unfortunately, this old saying doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of modern science.

A thermometer with blue fluid reads 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Photo: Sam_Catch (flickr)

If you're taking your temperature with an oral thermometer and the reading is at or above 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit, you have a fever.

You’ve probably heard of the saying “starve a fever, feed a cold”. It’s an old saying that goes back hundreds of years to ancient medicine. The idea is that if you’re hot, you need to put less fuel into your body so you’ll cool off. However, if you’re chilled or weak, you need to eat to stoke up your internal fires — feed a cold.

But the starving part isn’t really a good idea. When you’re sick, your appetite often decreases because food doesn’t taste as good and you’re tired. Fighting off a cold or flu demands energy. You’re best off eating light, healthful food — whole grains, veggies and lots of water.

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