An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Chicken soup is the best cold medicine. Feed a cold, starve a fever. You’ve probably heard these types of health tips when it comes to nutrition, but are they all true? We fact-checked six of these health tips with the latest science and our nutrition expert, Abby Sauer, MPH, RD, to separate fact from folklore.
1. True or False: Eat chicken soup when you have a cold.
True. Several studies have found that there is truth to this old wives’ tale. A University of Nebraska study found that chicken soup acted as an anti-inflammatory, reducing nasty cold symptoms like a stuffy nose and coughing. Another study by Mount Sinai researchers found that chicken soup did a better job than hot water of breaking up mucus.
"When you’re sick your body is working overtime to fight off germs, so keeping yourself properly fueled and hydrated is essential," said Abby Sauer, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian at Abbott. “Chicken soup seems to have a few added benefits when you have a cold, especially if your appetite is lacking, but any well-balanced meal will help keep your strength up."
2. True or False: Binge on Vitamin C when you’re sick.
False. Researchers analyzed 29 studies of more than 11,000 people and found no evidence that Vitamin C prevented the common cold. On the other hand, six studies have shown that Vitamin C reduced the number of colds in people under extreme physical stress, like marathon runners and skiers. The jury is still out on this myth, but while the right amount of Vitamin C does a body good, be careful of megadoses. Vitamin C is an important vitamin and antioxidant, but we don’t always need more than the body can use.
3. True or False: Feed a cold, starve a fever.
False. Sorry all, this one is a myth. Getting the right nutrients and staying hydrated is important, whether you have a cold, a fever or even a chronic illness. Abby recommends that people keep their body energized and strong with good nutrition, and drink lots of fluids.
4. True or False: As long as you eat something, nutrition doesn’t matter much when you are recovering.
False. Getting the proper nutrients can not only help you get better faster if you’re sick, but may also be able to improve your health if you are in the hospital or recovering from an illness.
"One of your biggest allies when you are ill or battling a disease are your muscles and they need nutrition to help you recover and stay in good health," said Abby. "That’s why getting the right amount of nutrients—especially protein and vitamin D—is important, especially as you get older or if you have a chronic disease."
In fact, Abbott’s newest nutrition drink was shown in a clinical study to help older malnourished adults with heart and lung disease improve their nutritional status, body weight and Vitamin D levels 90 days after leaving the hospital.
5. True or False: An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.
True. This old saying may be proving to have some truth to it. A study out of Britain used mathematical models to show that adults who ate an apple a day may reduce their risk for heart disease or stroke; another study from researchers at the Ohio State University found that an apple a day lowered blood oxidation of bad cholesterol levels (LDL) by 40 percent. But remember, a balanced diet is the best approach.
6. True or False: Grape juice can prevent the stomach bug.
False. Some studies have found that grape seed extract, black raspberry juice and pomegranate juice reduced the effectiveness of norovirus in petri dishes, but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that grape juice, or any fruit juice, will prevent the stomach virus outside of the lab. Your best bet to avoid that nasty bug? Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
Now you know fact from fiction! Prevention is your best bet and nutrition is an important part of getting and staying healthy!