Mother Knows Best

Now that flu season is hitting, it's time to bundle up and prepare for the weather. We all know those statements mom makes when she hears you sneezing up a storm. "Wear a hat before you go outside." "Eat chicken noodle soup." "Feed a cold, starve a fever." My personal favorite was "don't go outside with wet hair, you'll catch a cold."

How accurate are these statements? Parents often learn little tips such as these from their own parents, and who knows how far back they learned this knowledge. Science has advanced so rapidly since their time that now we know the exact causes and cures of common colds, something that was much more serious back in the day.

When it comes to that old wives tale, "feed a cold, starve a fever", the second part couldn't be farther from the truth. A study done with mice showed that when sick and on a low-calorie diet, they took much longer to recover than normal, and even suffered worse effects. When you're ill, the last thing you want to do is curb your non-existent appetite. In the long run, it is more beneficial to feed your body the calories it needs to recover. 

I have always known that the best thing you can do before going in the cold is to dress as warm as possible. Coat, scarf, gloves, and everything else is necessary to fight off that cold. Right? Wrong. On the contrary, colds and the flu are caused by viruses, not cold wind. You're likely to get sick because of germs you're coming into contact with inside with other sick people than outside. And those crazy people you see running outside with barely anything on in the cold? They in fact, are preventing illnesses better than you are.

Similarly, the old wives tale of going outside with wet hair has nothing to do with how susceptible you are to illness. The only possible way of contracting disease is if you contract hypothermia (which is unlikely), which will then aid in your illness.

It's important to realize that the old tales of keeping health stable in the long winter months couldn't be farther from the truth. What is important, however, it keeping a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Immunization is also key, along with keeping your hands clean of germs. Sharing illnesses is mainly brought through sharing germs. Like they tell you in elementary school, if you want to be safe, keep your hands to yourself.




Hi Natalia,

It's interesting you write this blog because my mother was just yelling at me for not dressing warm enough, saying "you're gonna catch a cold!" I've never heard of the "feed a cold, starve a fever" but i have heard of eating chicken noodle soup! I was sick before coming home for thanksgiving break, and when I got home for Thanksgiving my mom had chicken noodle soup waiting for me! I'll always believe that chicken noodle soup helps me feel better when I have a cold, even if it is just placebo effect! I never really knew the truth behind the old wives tale that you need to bundle up before going into the cold or else you'll get a cold, but now I know that it's actually not true!! Here is a cool article about other common health care misconceptions you might like!

I actually had no idea that “bundle up so you don’t get a cold” is an inaccurate thing. This really got me to thinking, what really does cause colds? I looked this up and found an article that explains it very nicely. It states, “The virus generally moves from someone else's hands to your hands (either directly or through some intermediate surface like a door knob), and from your hands into your nose or eyes.” Since colds get passed through hand to hand contact I tried to think of where all these funny cold sayings came from. Maybe our mothers want us to bundle up because with gloves on, it’s much harder to get in physical contact with someone else and so you are less likely to get a cold. Maybe it is just completely made up by our ancestors because they thought it sounded cute. Either way, I am disappointed that these sayings are not true.

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