"Feed a cold, starve a fever"

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    bearmeat's Avatar
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    "Feed a cold, starve a fever"


    I was wondering if you guys think the old wives tale "feed a cold, starve a fever" is indeed true.

    Interestingly enough on pubmed there are a few studies but only one is available:

    "Starve a fever and feed a cold": feeding and anorexia may be adaptive behavioral modulators of autonomic and T helper balance.

    Bazar KA, Yun AJ, Lee PY.

    Department of Dermatology, San Mateo Medical Center, 222 West, 39th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403, USA. kbazar@sbcglobal.net

    Anorexia is a common symptom accompanying infections, but the teleology of the phenomenon remains unexplained. We hypothesize that anorexia may represent a prehistoric behavioral adaptation to fight infection by maintaining T helper (Th)2 bias, which is particularly vital in fighting bacterial pathogens. Specifically, we propose that anorexia may avert the reduction of Th2/Th1 ratio by preventing feeding-induced neurohormonal and vagal output from the gut. Emerging evidence suggests that the vagal and neurohormonal output of the gut during feeding promotes Th1 function, which is desirable in fighting viral infections. Since fever may be an adaptation to fight bacteria and "colds" are generally viral in origin, the adage "starve a fever and feed a cold" may reflect a sensible behavioral strategy to tilt autonomic and Th balance in directions that are optimal for fighting the particular type of infection. The ability to modulate T helper balance through the neurohormonal and autonomic axis by adjusting food intake may be the mechanism behind other unexplained clinical observations such as the improved outcomes of ICU patients after enteric versus parenteric feedings. Compared to the prehistoric period when bacterial infection was commonplace, the anorexic response may be less adaptive today when viruses and cancers have become common triggers of anorexia. By promoting host anorexia, cachexia, and insomnia, cancers and viruses can deter behaviors such as digestion and sleep that would raise vagal and Th1 activity against tumors and viruses. Hydration and sleep, unexplained but widely accepted recommendations for flu patients, may also work by promoting vagal and Th1 functions. Modulating feeding, hydration, and sleep may prove beneficial in treating other conditions associated with abnormal autonomic and Th balance.

    From this it seems like you're suppose to feed viruses (i.e. colds) and starve bacteria (i.e. fevers) but only sort of holds true for present day ailments. I was wondering if you guys had anything else to support or refute this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearmeat
    ...the improved outcomes of ICU patients after enteric versus parenteric feedings....
    There are other mechanisms at work when dealing with enteral or parenteral feedings. It is always beneficial to use the gut when possible. Helps preserve the intestinal mucosa and decreases risk of bacterial migration in the small bowel. With PPN/TPN you always run the risk of further insult due to infection at access site.

    "Starve a fever" doesn't hold much credibility IMO. With elevations in body temperature there are subsequent elevations in RMR as well as increased need for amino acids with infection.
    Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life. Lao Tse 6th century BC
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    the saying is actually "starve a cold, feed a fever"

    and i doubt it is of any worth
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    I always feed both. I'm feeling the symtoms or either a cold or flu I cut loose on anyhting and everthing in sight.
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    I simply use a ton of vitamin c which seems to always break my colds. Cant explain it but it wirks for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripped1
    I simply use a ton of vitamin c which seems to always break my colds. Cant explain it but it wirks for me.

    Works great for me also with a little zinc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiskey Steve
    the saying is actually "starve a cold, feed a fever"

    and i doubt it is of any worth
    One of the biggest myths is that you need to rid yourself of a fever. Obviously, dangerously high fevers can cause organ failure, but slight elevations in body temperature is beneficial. Not online does the increase in temperature make the host unhospitable for certain pathogens but the increase in temperature intensifies leukocyte activation.
    cc
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    Quote Originally Posted by canadian champ
    One of the biggest myths is that you need to rid yourself of a fever. Obviously, dangerously high fevers can cause organ failure, but slight elevations in body temperature is beneficial. Not online does the increase in temperature make the host unhospitable for certain pathogens but the increase in temperature intensifies leukocyte activation.
    cc
    Yeah you beat me to the punch on that one. That is the whole point of your body creating an elevated temperature, and to go against what your body is trying to do in that respect is not helping you at all. I would say just make sure you arent pushing over 102.5-103 and you are fine. Anything over that I would try and bring it down..
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