Why you should never starve a fever

  • What to do when bacteria invade 
  • Why this common belief about colds and fevers is wrong 
  • My recipe for a soup that decongests you… (Better than chicken soup for a cold!)

Recently, there was outrage over a new pound coin.

Designed to commemorate the author HG Wells, it depicted one of the alien machines from his novel, The War Of The Worlds.

Now if you’ve read that book, you’ll know that the Martians invade the earth in giant tripods.

Tripod – as in THREE legs.

But what was this on the new pound coin?

FOUR legs!

A four-legged tripod?

The science fiction community was up in arms.

The nerd community erupted in protest.

The national society of pedants was furious.

Surely there must have been zillions of meetings, reviews and discussions over the design of this commemorative coin?

So how did something with an obvious flaw make it all the way to production?

To be honest, it made me feel a bit better about the Good Life Letter’s occasional blips and errors.

After all, we put these emails out almost every day of the week, so some typos do get through the proofing process.

But imagine spending many months on just ONE tiny object and it still having a mistake?

Anyway, regardless of the four-legged debacle, The War Of The Worlds is one of those books that continues to resonate down the years.

If you know the story, you’ll know that the earth is pretty much doomed after the Martians attack.

But in the end, they are foiled… by the common cold.

Yes, it was bacteria that became humanity’s unexpected ally.

Turns out that invisible microscopic entities are more deadly than guns!

Which is why the Spanish ‘flu outbreak in 1918 killed more people than were killed in the entire four years of the catastrophic World War I.

And it’s why the world is struggling in 2021 with the rampage of a virus.

The seriousness of Covid-19 makes the common cold pale into significance somewhat.

But make no mistake – it’s still a malicious fiend!

And despite everything else going on, it’s STILL HERE, making people ill and unhappy.

So I thought I’d go a bit ‘old school’ today and give you some tips on dealing with the common cold.

Starting with this…

Why this common maxim is wrong

You’ve probably heard the maxim, “feed a cold, starve a fever”?

I remember my mum saying it, and her mum saying it.

And it goes back further than that…

In fact, it is first mentioned in the 16th Century in a dictionary written by John Withals, which says, “fasting is a great remedy of fever”.

The idea was that eating food generates plenty of energy during a cold to keep you warm.

But when you have a fever, you can stay cooler by avoiding food altogether.

Now scientifically, this is bunkum.

Because a cold isn’t about getting ‘cold’. It’s not cured by making yourself warm.

The reason eating makes you feel better during a cold is because you’re giving your body energy for its fight against the bacterial invaders.

It feeds the cells which produce antibodies and helps you flush out toxins when you excrete food and water as waste.

And the same goes for a fever…

You get hot because your immune system is attempting to beat the bugs by raising your body temperature.

This accelerates your metabolism and burns a lot of calories.

So really you need to feed a fever by taking in more calories, not fewer.

Even more important is that you drink plenty of fluids to replace the water that your overheating body sweats out.

Dehydration causes the mucus in your throat and lungs to dry up, which makes it harder to get rid of when you cough or sneeze.

So with this in mind what should you eat and drink when you have a cold or fever?

Well, here’s another piece of common wisdom passed down through generations…

“Eat chicken soup.”

Now, I’m not going to deny that chicken soup doesn’t work wonders on colds.

It gives you a load of liquid to replace lost water… it is full of hearty ingredients… and the vapour can moisten your dried-up mucus.

But if you’re vegetarian, don’t worry.

Because there is nothing fundamental to the chicken itself that fights the cold.

You can get the same from a vegetable soup.

Or, here’s an even better alternative (in my opinion, anyway!).

Go for a vegetable soup that includes plenty of ginger.

This is because ginger is a decongestant and antihistamine, which helps soothe your air passages.

For instance, I love to make this ginger & carrot soup recipe whenever I have the sniffles:

  • Brown some onions, then add chopped carrots and stir through.
  • Add a few large cloves worth of minced garlic, as it’s a powerful antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral agent.
  • Now grate a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and add that, along with some vegetable stock.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Once cooled, blend the soup and add in a teaspoon of honey, along with a teaspoon of chopped crystalised ginger.
  • Now it’s ready to reheat, season and serve.

This soup gives you a proper punch of ginger with the pungent spicy aroma doing wonders for your congestion!

Plus you get the medicinal benefits of garlic.

And let’s not forget the humble carrot, which is packed with vitamin A, along with plenty of antioxidants including carotenoids and anthocyanins.

You could also use ginger to make some of your own cold and flu medicine.

Simply boil some thin slices of ginger in a small pot with water, then strain it through a muslin cloth into a small bowl.

Now add a cup of sugar to the liquid and then boil the mixture in a pot until it becomes a syrup.

Let that cool and then take it three times a day to alleviate your symptoms.

Just don’t tell the Martians about any of this, ok?

Before you know it, they’ll be attacking Earth while guzzling chicken soup and drinking ginger inside their tripods.

Until next time.