Health & Wellbeing

7 Cold and Flu Myths Busted

Stay healthy all year long.

You’ve heard it all before – the well-meaning health advice that’s supposed to help you steer clear of the dreaded flu. But some of the best-known advice isn’t actually true at all.

We spoke to nutritionist Sophie Scott from Endeavour College of Natural Health to help you separate fact from fiction

Does chicken soup speed up recovery?

According to Sophie, “The combination of broth, vitamin-rich vegetables and filling protein is what makes chicken soup the perfect feel-good recipe.”

Sophie says the broth provides some much-needed hydration when you’re sick, and “contains important vitamins and minerals”.

“Plus, with soup being consumed warm, the heat can assist to clear nasal congestion,” she adds.

“Vegies like carrots are rich in antioxidants and vitamin A, which have been proven to enhance the immune system.”

Can I “feed a cold and starve a fever”?

This superstition is thought to have originated during the Middle Ages – having people believe you would eat to treat a cold and refrain from food to bring down a fever. But Sophie says there’s no merit to this myth.

“You are better off eating something in both cases, as you may start to feel weak with reduced food consumption and the body needs energy to heal,” she explains. “So, eat what you can stomach, even if it’s just small amounts.”

Do oranges contain enough vitamin C to help when you’re sick?

Vitamin C is one of the best ways to support immune function so, if you’re sick it’s best to increase intake of vitamin-packed foods. 

Sophie says the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 45mg a day, and just one orange contains 84mg.

“Oranges are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, alongside kiwifruits and red capsicums,” explains Sophie.

Eating oranges and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice is also a great way to ensure you’re staying hydrated.


Does increasing your water intake flush sickness out?

Drinking plenty of water helps you to maintain good health, whether you’re sick or not. Sophie says everyone should aim to drink at least two litres of water each day.

“With the average Aussie only drinking one litre per day, we could all do with upping our intake, cold or not,” she says.

“Staying hydrated means the kidneys can do their job, and kidney and immune function are closely linked.”

Is gut health crucial to boosting immunity?

With 70 per cent of the body’s immune cells found in the gut, this part of the body plays a huge role in maintaining general wellness.

These bacteria and immune cells are constantly communicating with each other, particularly when they identify a threat to the body, such as a cold.

According to Endeavour College of Natural Health’s new gut health course, probiotics and prebiotics are vital for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome.

Probiotics are microorganisms that maintain or improve the good bacteria in your body. You can find probiotics in yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and supplements.

While research results on the effectiveness of probiotic supplements is mixed, people with low gut health or a poor diet could see some benefits by taking them.

Does honey really help with a cough?

“Not only does raw honey have anti-microbial properties, it can also soothe a cough by coating the lining of the throat,” says Sophie.

She suggests mixing honey, lemon, and ginger in a tea for an all-natural wellness remedy. 

“Acute sleep deprivation, like that associated with a cold, can result in decreased leptin levels – the hormone that makes you feel full. And if you don’t feel full, you’re more likely to reach for sugary snacks,” she says.

Does activated charcoal hold any benefits when you have a cold?

While activated charcoal can soak up various chemicals and even reduce bloating, Sophie says “its action on reducing cold severity has not been studied”.

“The amount added into water is minute and wouldn’t affect the gut microbiome. So, stick to plain water – there’s no evidence the addition of activated charcoal does anything extra,” she adds.

To help you determine health myths of your own, Endeavour College of Natural Health have 11 new short courses.

The courses cover topics including food sustainability, gut health, mental health and body image, cost $299 each and can be completed flexibly online within 20-25 hours.

We’ve teamed up with Endeavour College of Natural Health to offer New Idea readers 10 per cent off their short new courses until the end of the year. To claim, click here and use the code NEWIDEA10.

Offer is valid until December 31, 2022. Offer not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Offer only open to Australian residents 18+. Code valid for use once per person. For full terms and conditions, visit

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