Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever: Myth or Fact?

This week at The Laughing Cabin has been one big science lesson to test the theory behind the saying, “Starve a cold; feed a fever.”  This came about because my daughter and I both came down with a cold. My symptoms were mild. She had a pretty tough time of it. She stayed out of work for several days, so I made a pot of homemade chicken soup and took it over to her. Thankfully, we seemed to have been spared from the flu that has been going around, though colds are not much to celebrate.

Chicken Soup: Good for the Soul

I have long believed that chicken soup — especially the kind that is made using a whole chicken and especially the chicken’s feet — is the best medicine for a cold or flu. I could not find any chicken’s feet at the store, but I found some chicken breasts in the freezer with bones still attached. This made for a very tasty and soul-nourishing soup. Combined with some Mom hugs, this seemed to be just what my daughter needed.

Taking some roses, chicken soup and Mom hugs over to my daughter while she was sick

The way that my body has been fighting off this cold has been somewhat miraculous, in my mind. Though I know that prayer has a lot to do with it, I actually think my diet program is a major contributing factor. I haven’t eaten any sugar since May of 2017 (except for a handful of falling-off-the-wagon moments along the way). I truly believe that without the sugar in my body to fuel the cold, it just hasn’t been able to gain any momentum. I’ve had a mild runny nose, and a very mild sore throat. So mild, in fact, that it has not slowed me down. I am usually curled up in a ball on the couch at this stage and downing prescription antibiotics and medicines. To be able to function normally is why I say it’s been somewhat miraculous. I still consider myself to be contagious, so I have confined myself to home as much as possible for the benefit of others.  The bottom line is that I have not been suffering at all thought it seems to me that I should be.

Starve a Cold. Feed a Fever.

This is when the saying, “starve a cold, feed a fever,” came to mind. Out of sheer curiosity, I did some research to explore this theory and discovered that there is scientific evidence to support it. Most colds are caused by a bacterial infection. When your body is deprived of sugar, it releases ketones that successfully fight off the infection. The opposite is true for the flu which is usually caused by a virus. Your body needs glucose in order to release proteins to fight off the viral infection. Based on this, I think that old-time wisdom applies. Another way to say it is, “Starve a bacterial infection of carbohydrates and sugar. Feed a viral infection with carbohydrates and sugar.”

Numbers of followers replied to a recent Facebook post where I asked about the flu season in their region. I was so astonished to learn that entire colleges, elementary schools and communities were so significantly impacted.  Tamiflu is the usual medicine prescribed to relieve symptoms, but many sources were reporting that this and flu shots were only having a 10% success rate. That’s not to say we should not be getting using them. However, it occurred to me that we could be doing more to help our bodies heal. Knowing what foods to eat — or avoid — may just get us on the right track.

In my humble opinion, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew what they were talking about. Chicken soup, anyone?

Until next week! ~ Susan

Bonus: Special Tea

Mom’s Special Tea

When my children were young and became sick, I would always make a concoction for them to drink. They still refer to it as “Mom’s Special Tea,” and now serve it to their own children when they are sick.

This “tea” is made with one cup of hot water, fresh squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of raw honey. (Raw honey has natural anti-bacterial properties that are reported to assist the body to fight colds and other infections.)


Photographs appearing in this blog post are by S.R. Williams. Copyright 2018.


About S.R. Williams

S.R. Williams is an artist and writer who lives in a cabin in the northeast Georgia mountains where she is inspired with joy and inspiration by the natural beauty of the surroundings

View all posts by S.R. Williams