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Study Looks Into ‘Feeding A Cold, Starving A Fever’

Dorathy Gass

Most are familiar with that old saying, “feed a cold, starve a fever”, but has anyone actually followed that so-called rule of thumb? Some mothers still do, however, a new study decided to dive into these two ideas, and as it seems, they do hold truth behind them.

Using mice for their research, the study revealed that those little rodents with a bacterial infection did die after eating, while those with a viral infection lived after being fed.

According to the study, the types of food consumed during infection can also affect the ability of one’s immune system to battle pathogens; but it all depends on whether an individual is dealing with a viral or bacterial infection, and what kinds of foods are being eaten.

The research team conducted a series of experiments on mice, where they starved or fed the little creatures that had been infected with viruses or bacteria. The first step was infecting the mice with a bacterium, commonly known to cause food poisoning (Listeria monocytogenes). While it is common symptom for individuals suffering through this condition, the did mice did in fact stop eating … and made a full recovery over time. Still, when the mice were then infected with the bacterium were forced to eat, they ended up passing away.

Moving further down the line, the team dove into how differing foods affected recovery. It seemed that the fatal component to the food that was force-fed to the mice was glucose, as fats and proteins did not have any affect on the animals. In fact, when the 2-DG chemical was given to the mice (which constrains the glucose), the glucose was no longer had fatal results on the force-fed mice.

Medical News Today reported that in the next experiment, mice were infected with a flu virus. Unlike the previous test, when the mice were force fed (with glucose), they recovered; while the other mice that were either starved or given 2-DG died.

Interestingly enough, upon a brain scan of the dead mice (with either a viral or bacterial infection) and analysis, it was revealed that each infection affected differing areas of the brain. The researchers say this could mean that the metabolic needs of these mice can determine what regions of their immune systems are activated.

So next time you are suffering from a cold or fever, go with how you feel first, but always remember that there is some truth to that old saying your mother taught you.

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