Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Cells, Microbes & Viruses => Topic started by: glovesforfoxes on 05/07/2009 16:10:12

Title: What's the evidence for "starving a fever"?
Post by: glovesforfoxes on 05/07/2009 16:10:12
i've sometimes heard, by people not well versed in science, that the best way to beat flu is to starve it out. is there any scientific basis for this?  i understand that if the influenza infected the gut, it may be able to use the nutrients from the food that we eat - but wouldn't the nutrients from the food help the body much more (i.e help production of immunological cells) than the influenza, as the body's immune system is more efficient than the virus? or is it that the virus completely steals the nutrients, which leaves the body starved but not the flu?
Title: What's the evidence for "starving a fever"?
Post by: Chelsie on 21/07/2009 05:07:40
This is more of a physio question but... There is no evidence to support that you should starve a fever and most doctors agree that is actually better to eat a normal/slightly increased diet while because your body needs more energy than usual to fight off an infection. This theory arose hundreds of years ago because people believed that the more food you ingest, the more energy (ATP) you create, and the more energy you create the more heat you give off. Obviously you don't want to create more heat when you have a fever thus the reason people believed in starving yourself during a fever. While it is true to an extend that you do produce more energy when you eat (depending on how active you are), food intake does not increase body heat by itself. Your body temperature is control by homeostasis mechanisms in thermoregulatory center in the brain. If food intake was directly proportional to body temperature, there would be a lot of dead people.
Title: What's the evidence for "starving a fever"?
Post by: Karen W. on 21/07/2009 07:06:03
My family basically stayrd close to the rule except they just ate less solid foods while running a fever because running a fever tends to seem to curdle whatever you eat especially dairy products then there is more regurgitation and dehydration which you want to avoid.. My mom stuck by light foods like chicken soup broths jellos etc...Not to mention solids hurt coming back up!
Title: What's the evidence for "starving a fever"?
Post by: Bored chemist on 21/07/2009 21:24:21
It's a misunderstanding of the original meaning.
The phrase was ( or would be better modernised as) "Feed a cold to stave off a fever".
That makes more sense. If you are a bit under the weather you should make sure you keep well fed so the cold doesn't get worse.