Want to avoid getting sick this winter? In addition to washing your hands frequently and staying warm--mom was right, bring a sweater; viruses thrive in cold weather--perhaps the best way to prevent illness is to avoid eating excess sugar. Sugar weakens the immune system.
After you drink a regular soda or eat a piece of cake, or anything else that is loaded with added sugar, your cells, much like your body at large, undergo a sort of sugar lethargy. This effect can last for several hours during which time your immune-fighting cells are impotent against bacteria.
Much of your immune system lies within your digestive tract. There must be a proper balance of good bacteria versus bad bacteria (some research suggests 85% good vs 15% bad is optimal). Eating excess sugar results in the equivalent of having a high-school party at your parent’s house and having it overrun by unwanted party crashers. The party crashers are the bad bacteria, which, when these colonies proliferate, may result in sickness.
If you’re trying to regulate blood sugar, perhaps you already know that consuming excess sugar (especially refined sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup) results in insulin resistance; your body will need to keep pumping more and more insulin to escort the sugar into the cells.
Even fruit, which has natural sugar--fructose--can weaken your immune system if you’re overindulging (suggested reading: Is Fruit Bad to Eat if You’re on a Low-Carb Diet). Some people refer to fructose as alcohol without the buzz. Just as alcohol has sugar, fructose has ample sugar. That’s why it’s unwise to eat a large serving of fruit.
Research proves that cancer cells feed on sugar. Sugar lowers HDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol) and increases the density of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.
Sugar causes systemic inflammation in the body, manifesting as either joint pain, perhaps cancer, organ distress, diabetes, and maybe even a cold.
There’s no guarantee that cutting out refined sugars from your diet will prevent the cold or flu, but the odds are much higher that even if you do get sick, you’ll bounce back quicker if you cut down on the sugar.
This article was written by Judd Handler and orginally appeared on the Miracle Noodle blog.