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Do you starve a cold: Do You Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever?

Do You Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever?

The popular advice to “feed a cold, starve a fever” is probably something you’ve heard time and again when nursing a cold or the flu. But is it advice you should heed?

The answer is no. In actuality, you should feed both a cold and a fever — and starve neither, says Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH, Jenkins/Pokempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.

“When you have a cold or a fever, your immune system is fighting off an infection, and eating less during the early stages of an infection can actually be dangerous,” he explains. “The body requires large amounts of energy to create and assemble the large number of immune cells necessary to fight the enemy. Good nutrition and calories provide this energy.”

That’s especially true for people with less robust immune systems (such as very young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, or autoimmune disorders, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis), who may suffer more serious colds and infections if they take in too few high-quality nutrients, Dr. Moyad says.

Does that mean you should force yourself to eat big meals when you’re sick? Again, the answer is no. There’s no need to eat more or less than usual, according to Harvard Health Publishing, but what you do eat should be rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and zinc.

The Age-Old Cold-and-Flu Adage That’s Actually True

Eating a bowl of chicken soup really can help you feel better when you’re battling an upper respiratory tract infection, research has shown. One classic University of Nebraska Medical Center study published in the journal Chest suggests that traditional chicken soup made with vegetables contains many beneficial substances that help ease inflammation and other cold and flu symptoms.

Another study, published in the journal Rhinology, showed that consuming warm liquids “provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness, and tiredness,” according to the researchers. And even earlier research in Chest found that eating hot chicken soup made it easier to blow germ-carrying mucus out of your nose.

More importantly, soup is hydrating, and taking in lots of water, juices, or broth is crucial for preventing dehydration when you have a fever, says Soma Mandal, MD, an internist with the Summit Medical Group in New Jersey. “If you’re dehydrated on top of feeling sick, that will make you feel worse,” she says.

One reason why is that during a fever, your body needs to use more fluids than usual to maintain different bodily functions, Dr. Mandal explains. For example, she says, “when you have an upper respiratory infection, the virus is replicating in the cells, which causes tissue damage. Hydration helps repair those cells.”

You also lose a lot of water as your body tries to release heat through sweat. So the higher the fever, the greater the risk of dehydration becomes. “If you have a high fever or a fever lasting more than two to three days, you will need even more fluids to keep from getting dehydrated,” notes family medicine physician Curt Gingrich, MD, chief operating officer of OhioHealth Marion General Hospital in Marion, Ohio.

“In addition to making sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids during an illness,” Dr. Gingrich adds, “be sure to also get plenty of rest.”

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The Truth About Feeding a Cold and Starving a Fever


Nick Dragon

“Feed a cold, starve a fever” is an adage that’s been around for centuries. The idea most likely originated during the Middle Ages when people believed there were two kinds of illnesses. The illnesses caused by low temperatures, such as a cold, needed to be fueled, so eating was recommended. Illnesses caused by high temperatures, such as a fever, needed to be cooled down, so refraining from eating was thought to deprive the furnace of energy.

Nowadays, most doctors and years of research into the cold and flu say there’s only one tried-and-true treatment for colds and flu — plenty of rest and fluids. That’s because colds and flu are caused by viruses, for which there is no cure. But you can support your immune system as it struggles to prevail through proper nutrition and, even more importantly, proper hydration­.

If anything, the adage should be, “feed a cold, feed a fever,” because bodies fighting illness need energy, so eating healthy food helps. Eating food when you have a cold can also help the body generate heat, although other methods of keeping warm, like wearing an extra layer of clothes or wrapping yourself in a blanket, do the trick as well.

There are many reasons you shouldn’t try to starve a fever. Fever is part of the immune system’s attempt to combat the virus. Fever raises body temperature, which increases metabolism and burns more calories. That’s one reason why taking in calories becomes important.

What’s far more crucial in combating both colds and the flu is staying hydrated. Fever dehydrates the body, in part through increased sweating from the elevated temperature. Vomiting and diarrhea, two common symptoms of the flu, also quickly dehydrate the body. Dehydration makes the mucus in the nose, throat, and lungs dry up, which can lead to clogged sinuses and respiratory tubes. When mucus hardens it becomes more difficult to cough, which is the body’s way of trying to expel mucus and the germs it contains.

Replacing fluids is critical to helping the body battle the virus. Water works just fine, as do fruit juices and electrolyte beverages. If you feel nauseated, try taking small sips of liquids, as gulps might cause you to throw up. You can be sure you’re getting enough fluids by looking at the color of your urine, which should be pale yellow, almost colorless.

Of course, when you’re sick, you may not feel much like drinking and even less like eating. Loss of appetite is common, and might be part of the body’s attempt to focus its energy on pounding the pathogens. Don’t force yourself to eat, but make sure to take in plenty of fluids. However, you should avoid coffee, caffeinated sodas, and alcohol, because caffeine and alcohol both contribute to dehydration.

Once you’ve contracted a cold or the flu, it should run its course in five to 10 days. And while nothing can cure a cold or the flu, some remedies can ease your symptoms and keep you from feeling so miserable.

Wash your hands

For starters, frequent hand washing is one of the best things you can do to avoid catching whatever bugs might be going around. The key to making it count is using lots of soapy water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. If you’re in a public restroom, use a paper towel instead of your bare hand when you touch the door handle. At home, you should regularly disinfect doorknobs with Lysol spray or disinfectant wipes. And don’t forget about your germy computer keyboard and mobile phone. It’s a good idea to regularly run a disinfectant wipe over those keys and your phone.

Sip warm liquids

Taking in warm liquids such as chicken soup, hot tea (with lemon or honey), or warm apple juice can be soothing and the warm vapor rising from the bowl or cup can ease congestion by increasing mucus flow. Chicken soup is everyone’s favorite, but it’s not a miracle cure. It does provide needed calories and salt, as well as some nutritional benefits. Chicken soup is also generally easy on the stomach.

Soothe a sore throat

Gargling with salt water helps get rid of the thick mucus that can collect at the back of the throat, especially after you’ve been lying down. It can also help ease stuffy ears. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an eight-ounce glass of warm water. Please note that children younger than 6 years old will be unlikely to be able to gargle properly.

You can also try ice chips, sore throat sprays, lozenges, or hard candy. Don’t give lozenges or hard candy to children younger than 3 to 4 years old because they can choke on them.

Combat a stuffy nose

Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children.

Another option to ease stuffiness is nasal irrigation with a neti pot, where you pour salt water into one nostril and let it run out the other, clearing out your nasal passages. You can buy pre-made saline solution or make it by mixing salt and lukewarm sterile or distilled water. Neti pots are available in health food stores and drugstores.

Add moisture to the air

Breathing moist air helps ease nasal congestion and sore throat pain. One good strategy is to indulge in a steamy shower several times a day — or just turn on the shower and sit in the bathroom for a few minutes, inhaling the steam. Another way to ease congestion is to use a steam vaporizer or a humidifier. Be sure to change the water daily and clean the unit often in order to be sure it’s free of mold and mildew.

Another quick way to open clogged airways is to make a “tent.” Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Drape a towel over your head, close your eyes, and lean over the water under the “tent,” breathing deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. You may also want to add a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water for extra phlegm-busting power. Repeat this as often as necessary to ease congestion.

Relieve Pain

For adults and children older than 5, over-the-counter decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers might relieve some symptoms. As far as pain relievers go, children six months or younger should only be given acetaminophen. For children older than six months, either acetaminophen or ibuprofen are appropriate. Adults can take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Please note that none of these over-the-counter medications will prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side-effects.

Another great way to relieve headache or sinus pain is to place a warm cloth over your forehead and nose.


Your body needs time to heal, so listen to it. If your body’s urging you to spend all day in bed, then do so. Don’t press on with daily chores in the face of severe cold or flu symptoms. And don’t skimp on nighttime sleep. Good sleep cycles help the immune system work well, so it’s important to get a full eight hours of sleep each night.

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Increased feeling of hunger

Diabetes mellitus






25-th of August

The feeling of hunger is an expression of the body’s need for nutrients. The formation of a feeling of hunger occurs due to the mechanisms of hormonal and neuro-reflex regulation. The food center is a complex complex, the central link of which is the nuclei of the hypothalamus, located in the diencephalon. When these nuclei are irritated, a feeling of hunger arises, and when they are destroyed, food is refused.

Varieties of increased feeling of hunger

An increased feeling of hunger may occur for natural reasons, or may not correspond to objective satiety indicators.

Hunger, like any feeling, is subjective. True hunger is due to a lack of nutrients (glucose, amino acids, fats) and occurs with prolonged emotional stress, increased sports. However, modern man suffers much more often from a false, psychological hunger . Psychological hunger has as many varieties as human habits. For example, having become accustomed to eating at a certain time, a person consumes food regardless of the presence or absence of true hunger. The same applies to the habit of eating while watching TV or reading. The need for rest after hard work sometimes makes a person think about food. Boredom or, conversely, the desire to arrange a holiday for yourself – all this is realized through a feeling of hunger. However, there are also constant pathological hunger caused by an imbalance of hormones or a violation of the neuro-reflex regulation due to certain diseases.

Possible causes of an increased feeling of hunger

The reasons for the constant feeling of hunger may be due to the absence of substances in the blood that have an inhibitory effect on the food center, for example, glucose. With diabetes mellitus , due to a lack of insulin or tissue resistance to this hormone, glucose cannot enter the cells. Lack of glucose in cells causes excitation in the food center and a feeling of hunger. However, the intake of a new portion of food when insulin levels are low does not lead to satiety.

At the same time, obesity develops, which contributes to an increase in insulin resistance and exacerbates the disease.

With thyrotoxicosis, increased metabolic processes lead to muscle atrophy, causing weakness and increased sweating.

Trying to satisfy their increased appetite, patients with thyrotoxicosis eat a lot, but at the same time they do not gain weight, but, on the contrary, lose weight.

Due to the activation of peristalsis, defecation becomes more frequent. Hormonal shift leads to the development of neurasthenia and irritability. A characteristic symptom of thyrotoxicosis is the tremor of the extremities, which manifests itself at rest and during movement.

Another example of increased hunger due to hormonal changes is increased appetite during pregnancy . Pregnancy causes an increase in the concentration of estrogen in the blood, which, reaching the pituitary gland, triggers the production of prolactin.

This hormone promotes an increase in appetite and leads to the replacement of adipose tissue of the mammary glands with glandular.

After childbirth, prolactin interferes with the secretion of progesterone, which prevents a new pregnancy. Increased secretion of prolactin occurs with growth prolactinoma – a benign tumor of the pituitary gland, as well as in response to taking neuroleptics, antiemetics, hormonal contraceptives .

Another hunger-inducing hormone is ghrelin , which is produced by ghrelin-producing cells in the stomach. Entering the bloodstream, it affects the food center of the brain, stimulating hunger. Also, this hormone has a stimulating effect on the motility and peristalsis of the stomach. With a decrease in body weight, ghrelin secretion increases. Stretching the walls of the stomach after eating leads to a decrease in the secretion of ghrelin. This hormone has an antagonist – leptin, which affects the metabolism of fats and suppresses appetite. With a low level of leptin, morbid obesity develops in the presence of a number of genetic diseases.

Obese patients are characterized by a high concentration of leptin in the blood. But the cells become resistant to this hormone, and the feeling of hunger does not go away.

At night, leptin secretion increases, which allows a person to sleep without feeling hungry.

The occurrence of hunger can provoke increased acidity of gastric juice. An acidic environment is necessary for the denaturation of large protein molecules, ensuring the functioning of gastric juice enzymes, neutralizing pathogenic microorganisms that enter the body with food. However, when the acid is exposed to the esophagus, the fornix of the stomach and the anterior wall of the duodenum, where there should be a neutral environment, heartburn and a feeling of hunger occur. Eating drowns out this state, but after a while the discomfort resumes. With prolonged exposure to hydrochloric acid on the gastric mucosa, erosions first form, which, if left untreated, turn into an ulcer.

With increased acidity of the stomach, the patient experiences, in addition to heartburn, aching pain in the epigastric region and sour belching.

In addition to hormonal and secretory causes, increased hunger is caused by neuropsychiatric diseases. For example, patients with Parkinson’s disease lack control of food intake. Often they eat at night, while absorbing much more than their needs.

Bulimia, an eating disorder, is common among teenagers and young girls. It is caused by a pathological fear of obesity and is accompanied by constant thoughts about food.

Bulimic patients cannot stop themselves from overeating and consume excessive amounts of food.

After a bout of overeating, they either induce vomiting or take laxatives and diuretics.

Causes of increased hunger include effects of low-energy diets . Lack of food is accompanied by a decrease in blood glucose levels, which causes a feeling of hunger.

With a rational and long-term rejection of high-carbohydrate foods, the body changes metabolic processes, switching to energy sources such as fats and hard-to-digest carbohydrates. With periodic diets, the body experiences metabolic stress. There is an accumulation of nutrients for the future, and in the absence of a diet, the body requires more calories than necessary, which is accompanied by a constant feeling of hunger.

Which doctors should I contact?

If hunger occurs shortly after eating, it is necessary to find out its cause. First you should visit
therapist to make a diagnosis. In case of hormonal failures, pregnancy, the therapist will refer the patient to
endocrinologist or gynecologist-endocrinologist. If you suspect a gastrointestinal disorder, contact
gastroenterologist. If psychological or neurological problems are identified, consultation with a neuropsychiatrist or
neurologist. Hunger, as a diet companion, is almost inevitable. However, it is desirable to regulate body weight based on the recommendations of a nutritionist.

Diagnosis and examinations

An increased and constant feeling of hunger can be a symptom of diseases. Therefore, it is imperative to pass a general analysis of urine and blood.

General urinalysis (Urine analysis with sediment microscopy)

Method of determination

Determination of physical and chemical parameters is carried out on an automatic analyzer using the “dry chemistry” method.

Hardware microscope…

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Clinical blood test: general analysis, leukoformula, ESR (with microscopy of a blood smear in the presence of pathological changes)

Synonyms: Complete blood count, UAC. Full blood count, FBC, Complete blood count (CBC) with differential white blood cell count (CBC with diff), Hemogram.
Brief description of the study CBC: general a…

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If signs of diabetes mellitus are detected, a blood test for glucose and glycated hemoglobin is necessary.

Glucose (in the blood) (Glucose)

Research material

Serum or blood plasma. If it is not possible to centrifuge the sample 30 minutes after collection for serum/plasma separation…

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Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1С, Glycated Hemoglobin)

Synonyms: Blood test for glycated hemoglobin. Glycohemoglobin; HbA1c; Hemoglobin A1c; A1c; HgbA1c; Hb1c.

Brief characteristics of the analyte Glycated hemo…

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If the therapist has noticed the clinical symptoms of hyperthyroidism, tests for thyroid-stimulating hormones and ultrasound of the thyroid gland are necessary.

Thyroid gland: screening

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RUB 1,860

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Ultrasound of the thyroid gland, parathyroid glands and regional lymph nodes

Examination of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which allows to assess their structure, as well as to detect pathological changes in these organs and regional lymph nodes. ..

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The symptoms accompanying the increased acidity of gastric juice give reason to the gastroenterologist to prescribe gastroduodenal sounding to determine the pH environment in different parts of the stomach and gastroscopy to examine the mucous membrane of the stomach and duodenum.


Examination of the mucous membrane of the upper gastrointestinal tract with the possibility of biopsy or endoscopic removal of small pathological …

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It is much more difficult to determine the neurological and psycho-neurological etiology of increased hunger. If Parkinson’s disease is suspected, the main attention is paid to clinical symptoms detected during an external examination of the patient (hand trembling, impaired speech, posture, gait, slowness of movement). To confirm this diagnosis, MRI, ultrasound, single photon emission computed tomography, or positron emission tomography (PET) are performed.

MRI of the brain

Safe and informative scanning of brain structures for the diagnosis of its pathologies.

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Psychogenic disorders, accompanied by an increased feeling of hunger, the doctor reveals when questioning and examining the patient.


The feeling of hunger may be natural, in which case it does not require correction. However, with various diseases, increased hunger is a symptom that is worth paying attention to. Depending on the cause of increased appetite, treatment will be prescribed.

What to do with an increased feeling of hunger?

It should be remembered that hunger can be a normal signal of a healthy body and appear as a result of physical activity, short-term hormonal or physiological changes.

However, if the feeling of hunger is accompanied by other symptoms – fever, sweating, weakness, pain in the epigastric region – you should consult a doctor.

This is all the more necessary if the body weight changes, both in the direction of increase and decrease. If hunger appears in response to various diets, you should evaluate the calorie content of the foods consumed and balance the diet.


  1. Bolotova N.V., Raygorodsky Yu.M., Posokhova N.V. Transcerebral physical techniques in the treatment of obesity in children. Physiotherapy, balneology and rehabilitation. 2016; 15(2): 75-81. DOI: 10.18821/1681-3456-2016-15-2-75-81
  2. The use of unloading dietary therapy (RDT) in restorative medicine. A guide for doctors. Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. 2005.
  3. Tikhonenko E.V., Tsoi U.A., Vasilyeva E.Yu., Babenko A.Yu. Eating characteristics and appetite-regulating hormone levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and a body mass index greater than 35. Obesity and metabolism. 2018;15(1):30-38 doi:10.14341/OMET2018130-38


The information in this section should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests. For diagnosis and proper treatment, you should contact your doctor.
For a correct assessment of the results of your analyzes over time, it is preferable to do studies in the same laboratory, since different laboratories may use different research methods and units of measurement to perform the same analyzes.

How fasting helps you lose fat and maintain muscle



November 30, 2020

Why is it better to skip food periodically than to go on a diet.

Iya Zorina

Author of Lifehacker, athlete, CCM

You can not only read this article, but also listen to it. If it’s more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

How intermittent fasting differs from the diet

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the alternation of periods of fasting and eating without restrictions. For example, you can eat for eight hours and fast for the next 16, alternate a day of food and a day of fasting, or eat for five days and fast for two.

The main difference between IF and diet is that you can choose whatever you want during meal times. No need to eliminate your favorite foods, count calories and measure portions. Also, unlike a low-calorie diet, you do not feel weak, and therefore you can easily stick to a meal plan.

Is it possible to lose weight through fasting

It seems that fasting is not the best choice for losing weight. After all, if you drastically reduce the diet, the body will go into energy conservation mode, and when it gets access to food, it will begin to accumulate fat intensively.

This mechanism makes people gain weight after any strict diet, but when it comes to intermittent fasting, it doesn’t work.

What happens to the metabolism

The fact is that slowing down the metabolism is not a fast process. It takes at least a few days before your body realizes that bad times have come, and intermittent fasting usually lasts no more than 24 hours.

Moreover, in the first 14-36 hours of fasting, metabolism increases by 9%. This is easy to explain if we remember the conditions in which our ancestors lived. Before eating, it was necessary to catch or collect it. How will you run if all processes are slowed down and there is no energy?

Therefore, before “closing”, the body gives you 2-3 days to vigorously search for food, and only then it goes into saving mode.

Since the metabolism is increased, but there is no food, it is necessary to spend what was in reserve – to break down fats and use them as fuel.

Find out more 👇

  • 6 ways to speed up metabolism that everyone can do

Where does energy come from when you are starving

There are two main sources of energy – carbohydrates and fats. Almost always they can replace each other. There are carbohydrates – let’s turn them into energy, a lot of carbohydrates – we will transfer them to fat in reserve, no carbohydrates – we use fat from reserves. But there are exceptions.

The brain cannot use fat: it only needs glucose from carbohydrates. Since the brain is the most valuable thing we have, during fasting it eats up all the glucose that was in reserve in the form of glycogen, and then forces the liver to process fatty acids into ketone bodies – an alternative source of energy.

Meanwhile, the rest of the body intensively (remember the increased metabolism?) eats up the fatty acids that it has taken from your fat cells.

And this is not just a theory, IF gives good results in practice: three months of fasting every other day helps to get rid of 3-5.5 kg of fat.

A low-calorie diet works faster: it helps you lose 1-4% more fat in the same time, but it has one significant drawback: along with fat, you will lose muscle mass. Unlike a long diet, intermittent fasting has almost no effect on the muscles.

Learn more 🥗

  • 11 Diet Myths You Should Stop Believing

How fasting affects muscles

Fasting preserves muscle mass 3-4 times better than a low-calorie diet. 2-3 months of intermittent fasting either does not affect muscle mass at all, or slightly reduces it. To understand why this happens, consider the mechanism of muscle breakdown.

Lack of food speeds up autophagy, a process in which a cell donates some of its macromolecules and organelles in order to obtain building blocks for new proteins, nucleic acids, fats and carbohydrates. In times of famine, building materials are used for energy, and the muscles slowly melt.

For example, if you reduce your calorie intake by 20%, you will lose 2-3% of muscle mass in four months. And if you cut the diet to 800-1,000 kcal per day, three is enough. But short-term hunger does not trigger this mechanism.

First, the period without food is too short.