Dr. Nancy confirms feed a cold —-— and feed a fever

Posted Oct. 01, 2010, at 6:36 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:46 p.m.

Here at Cobb Manor we have never adopted the “feed a cold, starve a fever” philosophy when it comes to sickness. We feel that stuffing either is the way to go, simply because it is better to avoid hunger at all costs. If you are going to be sick, you might as well avoid that horrible hungry feeling.

We are not alone. Along comes our new best friend, Dr. Nancy Snyderman. You know her as NBC’s chief medical editor, and her face is on the screen almost daily. She is not just another pretty face, since she serves as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Now she has penned a new book on “Medical Myths that can Kill You” (Crown, $24.95).

Pay attention.

She certainly agrees that feeding a cold is a good idea, but starving a fever is counterproductive.

“Your body needs nutrition at all times for healing. When your temperature goes up, so does your metabolism — which means your body requires calories more than ever for functions like breathing and pumping blood. Not eating will only make it harder for your body to fight off the illness.”

I’m on her side.

I hate all my skinny friends who giggle at my blood pressure problem, however slight. I usually don’t mention that one of them (a marathoner) has had open-heart surgery.

Dr. Nancy is on my side once again.

Just because you are skinny doesn’t mean you are out of the woods, she said.

Some people are just born with a predisposition to high cholesterol.

“They may look like the picture of health from the outside, but inside they can have dangerous plaque blocking their coronary arteries, the arteries that surround the heart. Know your total cholesterol, the breakdown of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ components of cholesterol, and your triglycerides. And don’t smoke. Smoking is the fastest way to a heart attack,” She said.

At least I don’t smoke.

At Cobb Manor, we take a “relaxed” approach to spring-cleaning, housecleaning, any cleaning at all. I have been told that I “live in filth,” which I think is unfair. Dr. Nancy has a tip for you neat and tidy people, you nitpickers, you people who actually use a vacuum.

Watch out for that toothbrush.

“We know from research that used toothbrushes are contaminated with millions of germs from our mouths, from the bathroom, and from neighboring toothbrushes. To keep germs from spreading, don’t share toothbrushes (eek) or let your toothbrush make contact with any other toothbrushes stored in the same holder. A good rule of thumb is to keep them at least an inch apart. Also, get a new toothbrush after you’ve had any illness such as a cold or flu because germs can remain even after you’ve recovered.”

I know some people who donate blood all of the time, to perfect strangers. Apparently this has physical as well as emotional benefits.

Preliminary studies suggest you can lower your risk of heart disease by regularly giving blood, which helps mitigate the amount of iron in your body, she said.

“Many researchers think that we take in too much iron, mostly from eating red meat. Excess iron is thought to aid in the creation of free radicals in the body, speeding the aging process and raising the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

She can be a killjoy, as well. Dr. Nancy suggested that coffee should be made with a paper filter, which removes a natural compound called cafestol. Strong coffee should be consumed only as an occasional treat, she said.

Now, I think it’s time for Dr. Nancy to butt out.

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