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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some illnesses cause loss of appetite, or include symptoms of gastrointestinal distress that make eating problematic. But it's important to feed the body during illness. The old adage "Starve a cold, feed a fever" offers sound advice for dealing with common winter season ailments. Starving a cold simply means avoiding heavy foods that increase the production of mucus in the body; the more mucus produced, the longer an infection will remain. Mucus producing foods include dairy products, sugar, white flour, and red meat, so these should be avoided until cold symptoms have abated.

Feeding a fever refers to the body's need for nutrition during a draining illness such as flu. Fluids are the most important component of good nutrition at this time, as fever can cause dehydration. Unsweetened fruit juices, herb teas, clear soups and water are best. Steamed vegetables, fruit, lean protein such as chicken, ham or turkey, raw nuts such as almonds or walnuts, and cooked cereals such as oatmeal are all good choices.

During illness it is advisable to avoid all toxins and stimulants, including coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages, sodas (including diet soda), candy, cookies or other sweets, heavy or rich foods containing a lot of fat or calories, and spicy foods; all of these can tax the digestive system.

dexter-rox | Student

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