Is it feed a cold and starve a fever or starve a cold and
feed a fever? However the old saying goes, I managed to attract a midsummer cold
this past week.
I thought it was only allergies at first, but then it
blossomed into a full-fledged cold with the usual Nyquil ad coughing, fever,
stuffy head, sore throat and coughing. I always try to do the old home remedy
route first — the hot tea, chicken soup, drink lots of water and rest route.
And sometimes that works. There is some genuine wisdom in
those cures that people relied on before the advent of modern medicine.
The hot liquids of the tea and soup ease and loosen up
congestion. Water, of course, keeps the body hydrated and flushes everything
out, and rest allows the body to recharge and use its own natural defenses to
fight off any germs or viruses.
I took a sick day on Tuesday after my cold got progressively
worse on Monday night. I spent Tuesday on the sofa or in a chair, sleeping and
watching TV and coughing — a lot of coughing and whining to myself and the cats
about wishing I felt better.
I had resisted taking any actual cold medicine, trying some
over-the-counter allergy and sinus things I had at home. But on Tuesday night I
made myself look halfway human and scurried out of my burrow to Walgreen’s to
fetch some cold medicine.
On the advice of a friend, I bought some Alka-Seltzer Plus,
brought it home and took a dose. Within hours, I was feeling much better and
lamenting that I’d wasted so much time fiddling with hot tea and soup.
The irony of this whole deal is that on Monday night I went
to Tiskilwa and picked up my community-supported agriculture box. As I was
suffering later Monday night and Tuesday, I had a refrigerator full of fresh
green beans, a bright yellow tomato, six glorious ears of sweet corn, fresh
broccoli, new potatoes and onions.
I had all the fresh food anybody could ask for, and I had
fresh herbs in pots right outside my backdoor. In effect, I had the means to eat
and drink my cold away.
Now, if I’d waited and not gone to Walgreen’s and not taken
the cold medicine, I probably would, by now, have had the energy to make up some
of those fresh foods into a soup or steam them or prepare them somehow.
The copious amounts of hot tea and cold water and soup I’ve
been drinking would have started to have some effect in making me feel better —
But what has got me feeling almost back to normal more
quickly is a combination of things. I’m drinking hot tea — and coffee, of course
— and lots of water.
I’m still eating mostly hot soup for meals since congestion
makes it hard to taste or smell — or enjoy — any other food. I’m moving
In fact, during a 3 a.m. coughing bout, I discovered that
getting up and walking around helps ease that more quickly than just sitting or
lying around. And I’m still taking the doses of cold medicine on a regular
I still have all those great local foods from the CSA in my
fridge, and I hope that I’m feeling better enough by this weekend to enjoy that
sweet corn and slice up that tomato and prepare those green beans.
Those things alone won’t be the cure to my cold. They’ll
certainly be good for me after this illness, boosting levels of all kinds of
vitamins that surely have been depleted while I’ve been sick.
It’s a combination of things — both natural and manmade —
that is helping me through my cold and will help me get back to normal. It’s
fresh food and the simple things such as chicken soup, hot tea with honey and
lots of water and exercise and the regular doses of cold medicines.
It’s the same for human health, in general. It’s not one
food or one group of foods that make people sick or, well, skinny or fat or
whatever. It’s a combination of things.
There is no one magic thing that if added or taken away from
our diets or lifestyles will magically cure whatever ails us. It’s a combination
of things, eating a balanced diet of protein, vegetables and fruits and dairy,
getting an adequate amount of exercise on a regular basis and, yes, of taking
care of ourselves when we’re sick or hurt and using manmade remedies to do that.
We need to continue to emphasize that message as different
groups, with different agendas, put pressure on different sectors of
agricultural production, whether it’s the dairy-free, gluten-free, meat-free or
whatever-free trend of the moment.
It’s going to take all hands on deck — diet, exercise and
manmade remedies — to cure what ails each of us and all of us, no matter what