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Feed a cold, starve a fever

 
  
 

 

 

 
 

 

They’re common bits of motherly advice passed down the generations. These are the myths and surprising truths about what helps and hinders your winter woes...

 

 

Chicken soup works magic on the sniffles

SURPRISING TRUTH

  • In addition to the hit of hydration, vitamins and minerals you’ll absorb, the broth has anti-inflammatory properties which can relieve respiratory infections. When pulverised into the soup, an amino acid called cysteine is released from the chicken. It acts similarly to a drug that general practice teams prescribe to bronchitis patients to bring up all that chesty mucus.

 

Feed a cold, starve a fever

MYTH

  • When you’re run down, what you’re eating becomes far more important than how much. To overcome infection, you need to arm your body with as many nutrients and hydration as your nauseated state can take in. Think clean eating – smoothies laced with fruit, vegetables dipped in hummus and plenty of green or black tea.

 

You’ll “catch your death” throwing snowballs without a coat

SURPRISING TRUTH

  • Just like a snowball fight, debate on this one has been back and forth, but a study by Cardiff University suggests your mum might be right – well... not quite the “death” part. In an ice challenge-like scenario, 90 people sat with their legs immersed in freezing water, while another 90 stayed rugged up. 33% of abominable snowmen feet participants went on to develop a cold, compared with only 9% of those who get to keep their socks on! It’s all to do with how blood flow is restricted in the cold. White blood cells need warm blood to fight infections, and when it's reduced, they don't do their job as well, so we get sick.

 

Honey and lemon drinks make everything better

SURPRISING TRUTH

  • Turns out bees, flowers and sunshine beat out man-made dextromethorphan (that’s the active ingredient in sickly children’s cough syrups) every time. It’s thought that the sticky thickness of honey sliding down the throat, combined with natural antioxidants, aids cough relief – and has been proven through a study at Pennsylvania State university.

 

It’s polite to cover a cough/sneeze with your hand

MYTH

  • It might look gracious to pop a hand over your mouth when a cough strikes during a social soirée, but what do you do next to greet an acquaintance? Shake hands – gross! It’s better to use a tissue, or into your elbow if caught short. That way you won’t be exposing your party guests to more than just a good time.

 

Bed rest is best

MYTH

  • Playing a full game of your chosen Saturday sport is not the best idea when your nose is streaming – intense exercise can actually weaken your immunity. But if you can crawl out from the covers for a 30 minute daily walk, you could feel so much clearer-headed in the afternoon and evening.

 

Milk and mucus don’t mix

MYTH

  • Mum always forbid icecream when you had a sore throat because she swore milk products would thicken the mucus that your body’s trying to rid itself of. Turns out there’s really no medical basis for this, so gorge away – it could provide useful energy when you’re struggling to eat anything else.

 
   
 

 
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