Grandma's advice to 'feed a cold and starve a fever' might have an element of truth, scientists claim.
New research shows that the old adage appears to be based on sound science when a fever is caused by bacterial infection. Scientists put the folk wisdom to the test using laboratory mice with bacterial and viral infections.
They found that mice with flu - like the common cold, caused by a virus - were helped to recover and survive when they were fed. In contrast, feeding animals infected by bacteria only hastened their death.
Lead researcher Professor Ruslan Medzhitov, from the Yale School of Medicine in the US, said: 'We were surprised at how profound the effects of feeding were, both positive and negative.
'Anorexia - not eating - is a common behavior during sickness that is seen in people and all kinds of animals. Our findings show that it has a strong protective effect with certain infections, but not with others.'
In the first of a series of experiments, mice were infected with Listeria bacteria - a common cause of food poisoning. The animals stopped eating naturally, and eventually recovered. However, when they were made to eat, they died.
Source - Daily Mail