Old Wive’s Tale – Cold & Flu Prevention – Fact or Fiction?

Picture of an apple and a stethoscope

There are plenty of old wives’ tales which have dictated how we look after ourselves during the cold and Flu season, but how many are actually true and which ones are not based in reality?

Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold

There is an element of truth to this tale, but only because generally, we don’t really feel like eating when we get a cold. There is no need to starve yourself, the best plan of action is to eat healthily, plenty of fruit and veg and whole foods and make sure you stay hydrated.

Cold Weather Will Make You Sick

It isn’t the weather itself that will make you ill, it’s the viruses which are prevalent at that time of year, so for cold and Flu prevention, this gem of a tale simply won’t work. During the cold winter months when we have the central heating on in the home and at the office, germs are able to spread easily from person to person, which is why colds are rife between groups of people who spend time indoors together.

Avoid Dairy When You Have a Cold

Another fallacy when looking at cold and Flu prevention. It has never been proven that dairy makes a cold worse. Some people who cannot tolerate lactose, find that they produce more mucus if they eat or drink a dairy product, but for the majority of people, it has no effect, so carry on eating dairy if you wish, it won’t make your cold any worse than it is!

Coughing Up Green Mucus Means You Need Antibiotics

There’s very little truth to this tale, it isn’t possible to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection, simply by looking at the colour of the phlegm. Antibiotics are only precscribed for bacterial infections as they are useless for anything viral and mucus can appear in all colours, depending on the infection, food you’ve eaten or chemicals absorbed by the body.

Honey is a Great Soother

This is one of the true old wives’ tales when it comes to cold and Flu prevention. Honey has been used for many years because of its medicinal properties. Its antibacterial benefits help to soothe a sore throat and can even prevent a cold from progressing by trapping the bacteria and eliminating it from the body. Sipping a cup of warm lemon with honey can boost the immune system and soothe the symptoms of a cold or the Flu.

Chicken Soup Will Cure a Cold

It may seem as if this one is could be a falsehood, but in actual fact, there is some truth to it. Chicken soup made with pepper, onion and garlic can ease the inflammation caused by a virus, so can help with cold and Flu prevention. Cysteine, an amino acid found in chicken, is known for thinning mucus in the nose and chest. Both onion and garlic are antiviral, which boost the system and eliminate bacteria and pepper is a great for easing congestion.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Full of vitamin C and antioxidants, the often overlooked apple is more beneficial than most people realise. Phenol, one of the antioxidants found in apples, can prevent disease and the vitamin C boosts collagen in the muscles, bones and cartilage. So maybe it does keep the doctor away after all!

Picture of an apple and a stethoscope

Sneezes, the Bearers of Bad News?

Not necessarily. Yes, sometimes they could be the sign that a cold or Flu may be on its way, but there are many other reasons why we sneeze. Bright lights and allergens, such as animal hair can cause a fit of sneezing at any given time. Some people sneeze after a heavy meal, if there are flowers around or a speck of dust has landed in their nose!

Cover Your Mouth With Your Hand, When You Cough

It certainly sounds like this should be true in cold and Flu prevention, but unfortunately, you’re more likely to do more harm than good by coughing into your hand. Germs and bacteria are easily spread once they are caught on the hand, they can be transferred to door handles, phones and counter tops very quickly and the virus is less likely to be contained.

There are many ways to aid cold and Flu prevention, some old wives’ tales should stay firmly in the past, but others have proved to stand the test of time, take heed and keep healthy this winter!