Should you feed a cold and starve a fever, starve a cold and feed a fever, or neither one? Most health experts say starving is never the right answer, but at the same time, you should listen to your body. If you really don’t feel like eating, lowering your calorie intake is okay provided you’re taking in plenty of liquids, like water.
Perhaps the question should really be, what should you eat and what should you avoid while fighting an illness of any kind, be it a cold, fever or both.
If your diet is poor, you’ll get sick more often than you would if you had a healthy diet, and when you do get hit, those viruses will likely hit you harder and keep you down longer. It should go without saying that eating poorly while you’re sick will only make things worse.
A well-balanced, nutritious diet allows the body to respond to germs quickly and efficiently. The immune system needs lots of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids in order to function well. Foods rich in nutrients help to battle infections can can even help prevent illness.
Prebiotics and probiotics also play an important part in preventing illness as they’re essential to gut health which is a must for a strong immune system. Prebiotics help to nourish good bacteria while probiotics, which are the bacteria themselves, have been shown to help one recover faster when you do get sick.
Be sure to consume both, whether you’re under the weather or feeling great. Prebiotics include foods like asparagus, garlic, onions and Jerusalem artichokes as well as citrus fruits, kiwi, berries, apples and bananas. Potatoes and yams, quinoa and beans, are also good sources, as well as flax seeds and chia seeds which provide essential fatty acids.
Some of the best whole food sources of probiotics include plain organic yogurt, cheese and kefir with live, active cultures; fermented vegetables like pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi; miso, tempeh, soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free) and wine.
Aim for at least 1-2 servings of probiotic-rich foods and 2-3 servings of prebiotic-rich foods daily.
Back to the “starve” part of that old saying, while you never want to starve yourself, moderate calorie restriction has been shown to improve cell-mediated immunity and even offset aging related changes in immune function by helping to replenish stem cells – but, extremely low food intake could suppress the immune system and lower the body’s defenses.
Listen to your body, and consider eliminating any food or beverage that doesn’t contribute to your good health, naturally lowering your overall caloric intake, including things like soda, fast food or processed foods. Instead, concentrating on whole, organic foods that come from the earth.
In addition to prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, including certain foods that may hasten recovery can also be a good idea. That includes garlic, which serves as an antibiotic and has consistently been found to lessen the severity of colds and other infections. Homemade chicken soup, not the kind from a box or a can, has been found to offer anti-inflammatory properties that decrease cold symptoms. Drinking green tea helps to boost the production of B cell antibodies which can battle off invading pathogens – add a couple of teaspoons of raw, organic honey to take advantage of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Research has found honey to be as effective as a cough-suppressing drug.
Once you’re well again, keep in mind that unhealthy eating, including consistently overeating, can compromise how the immune system responds when it is faced with germy invaders.
Aim to eat a healthy, nutritious diet for life – you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by how much healthier, and happier you are overall.
-The Alternative Daily