Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?

I remember when I was young hearing the phrase “feed a cold, starve a fever”. But, what does that really mean? The definition of starve is: 1) to kill with hunger; 2) to deprive of nourishment. This does not seem like the best idea. What IS a good idea is to eat healthy foods to avoid viruses (and other immune challenges, too.)

Having a low appetite can be common when you are ill because your digestion slows down when the immune system is working hard. So, if you aren’t hungry, forcing yourself to eat is not necessary. However, drinking adequate fluid is (especially if a person has a fever).

Research is being done with lower carbohydrate diets and illness, and one such study indicates that a ketogenic diet can help with immune system function. (1) This means that eating a diet that focuses on healthy fats, adequate-protein, and fewer grains and sugar could be beneficial to your immune health.

Here Are Foods To Avoid:

These foods are higher in an amino acid arginine which can perpetuate viral load (whereas lysine could suppress viral load). (2)

Almonds and Almond Butter, Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts and Peanut Butter, Cashews, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Brazil Nuts

Oatmeal, Pasteurized Dairy products, Sunflower seeds,  Chocolate, Corn, Sesame Seeds, Onions, Brown Rice, Soybeans, Whole Wheat, and Millet.

White refined sugar should be avoided because it is inflammatory and depletes your B vitamins and minerals (which are essential for your immune system).

I did an anti-viral elimination diet and avoided all the foods in the previous paragraph for 3 weeks. With slow reintroduction, I learned what each specific foods did to my body. Almonds caused an upset stomach. Peanuts or peanut butter created cold sores. Oatmeal caused a headache. Now I know what to avoid for myself. You can discover this, too.

Foods Strengthen Your Immune System:

The following anti-viral foods and herbs can generally strengthen your immune system. Most of these have high Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and mineral content.

Mushrooms (i.e. shiitake, reishi, turkey tail, maitake) Garlic Pomegranate Seeds
Green Tea Broccoli Unsweetened Juice
Nutritional Yeast (3) Beef Broth Ginger
Sweet Potatoes Chicken Bone Broth/Stock  

Good Sources Rich in Lysine:

Red Meat Pork Poultry Raw Milk Parmesan Chesse
Fish Eggs Spirulina  

Recommended Anti-Viral Supplements to Support Your Immune System:

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is good for tissue healing and the immune system. (4)
  • Zinc – Zinc is immune supportive, has anti-viral properties, promotes tissue healing, and can help with blood sugar and hormone balance. (5)
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps with mineral absorption, resistance to illness and normal immune function, bone, brain, and heart health. (6)
  • Iodine – Iodine is an essential mineral for every cell in the body and the thyroid gland in particular and iodine may boost the immune system. (7)

Other Tools You Can Use:

  • Sauna – Use of a sauna can help with detox pathways, decrease inflammation, boost the immune system, and increase resistance. (8)
  • Nebulizer – Using a nebulizer with a supplement called BioMolecular Oxygen from CellCore Biosciences can help with oxygenation of the cells and tissue healing.

I look forward to helping you build a stronger body, stronger immune system, and live a healthier life.

Be well,
Kerry Cradit, B.S. Nutrition and Food Science