You shouldn’t starve a cold and feed a fever — and you shouldn’t do the reverse, either. Neither expression is true, which might explain why so many people get them confused! Both colds and the flu (usually accompanied by fever) are caused by viruses, and neither should be intentionally starved.

The idea of starving a cold probably stems from the fact that you can’t smell or taste your food very well when you’re sick. Your body needs nutrients for recovery regardless of what virus you have, so it’s important to eat if possible.

What’s more critical, however, is consuming ample liquids. Staying hydrated will help you feel better while you’re sick and recover more quickly. Studies have found that patients report some relief after sipping something warm, so tea is a great option if you have a sore throat. Water, juice, soda or sports drinks are fine too.

Of course, you can avoid getting the flu in the first place if you get a flu shot. It’s not too late, since the CDC predicts that the flu won’t peak until January this year — and it will still be around in February and March. So if you haven’t gotten one yet, you should. Since we don’t have a cold vaccine yet, the best preventative measure is to wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with sick people whenever possible.

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