Cold and Flu Myth:

Feed a cold and starve a fever.

Should you feed a cold and starve a fever? Or is it the other way around, starve a cold and feed a fever?

Whatever you may have heard about starving or feeding a cold or the flu, the good news is that this maxim is a myth: starving is never an appropriate option for dealing with a cold or flu. That’s because calorie restriction (starving) puts the immune system in a state of distress, while calorie ingestion (feeding) favors immunity.

The best thing you can do when you’re suffering from a cold or flu is take in plenty of fluids and eat foods rich in zinc and antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E.

Foods rich in zinc include: eggs, meats, nuts, seafood, seeds, wheat germ, and whole grains; while most brightly colored fruits, vegetables and dark leafy greens are high in antioxidants. And don’t forget to drink lots and lots of water!


Gijs R. van den Brink, Daniëlle E. M. van den Boogaardt, Sander J. H. van Deventer, and Maikel P. Peppelenbosch. Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever? January 9, 2002; Laboratory for Experimental Internal Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Retrieved from: December 20, 2011.

WebMD Medical Reference. Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever? Cold & Flu Health Center. Retrieved from: December 20, 2011.