You should feed a cold and starve a fever – yes or no?

No. And it’s not the other way either. There’s little scientific evidence for one of the most well-known medical maxims (also known as Mum’s advice). The only study suggesting that the claim had any validity was published in the journal Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology in 2002 by a team of Dutch scientists. They found that eating a meal increases a type of immune response that fights off the viruses responsible for colds, while fasting seemed to stimulate one that could help fight off the infections associated with most fevers. But the study involved only a small number of subjects and has not been replicated. Most doctors – and years of research on cold and flu sufferers – say there’s only one tried-and-true treatment: Plenty of rest and fluids.


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