It's not true that you should feed a cold but starve a fever. Your body burns more calories when you have a fever. If you don't eat enough nutrient-dense foods, you will lack the energy your immune system needs to help you recover quickly. Get medical help immediately if you have a fever that is over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, that lasts longer than 48 to 72 hours or that is accompanied by a stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, rashes or pain during urination.
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Fill Up on Fluid-Rich Foods
According to Vanderbilt School of Medicine physician William Schaffner, the best way to combat a fever is to consume plenty of fluids. Besides drinking water, hot tea or 100 percent fruit juice, you should eat fluid-rich foods like low-sodium vegetable or poultry broth, ice pops made from 100 percent fruit juice and thin soups. The vapor from hot foods like chicken soup can loosen dried mucus in your nasal passages.
Choose Fresh Fruit
Fruits like oranges, strawberries, watermelon, pineapple, kiwi and cantaloupe are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports the health of your immune system. Bananas can help replace potassium lost to diarrhea, sweating or vomiting. Additionally, citrus fruits contain flavonoid compounds that decrease inflammation and boost immune cell functions. Pick fresh fruit instead of sweetened fruit products such as some brands of applesauce, fruit juice with added sugar or fruit canned in heavy syrup. A high intake of sugar may inhibit your immune system.
An article published in "Pediatrics" in 2009 reported that regularly consuming probiotic foods, which contain beneficial live bacteria, could lower fevers in sick children. The children eating probiotics were also less likely become ill. Try eating yogurt that contains live bacteria cultures when you have a fever. To ensure that you purchase a brand with a high concentration of bacteria, look for one that has the "Live & Active Culture" seal of approval from the National Yogurt Association on the label. Pick low- or nonfat yogurt over whole-milk varieties to avoid saturated fat.
Work in Protein
Eating protein when you have a fever can help give your immune system the energy it needs to fight off infection, says dietitian Emily Cruwys. Choose small amounts of soft, bland foods such as scrambled eggs, scrambled silken tofu or poached, unseasoned skinless chicken or turkey. If you can't stomach solid foods, get your protein boost from a high-protein shake, a smoothie made with low- or nonfat milk, yogurt or tofu, or milk added to hot tea or coffee.
- Scientific American: Fact or Fiction? Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever
- MedlinePlus: Fever
- New Health Guide: What to Eat When You Have Fever
- Huffpost Healthy Living: What to Eat When You're Sick
- Linus Pauling Institute: Flavonoids
- Pediatrics: Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children
- AboutYogurt.com: Live & Active Culture Yogurt
- MailOnline: What You Should Be Including in Your Diet When You Are Ill
- Today: Best Foods for Fighting the Flu