It’s that time of year again when the weather is changing and I’m starting to hear lots of sniffles in the clinic! There are lots of patients who seem to be doing everything right. They are eating their greens, washing their hands like crazy and even taking a bunch of supplements but just don’t understand why they keep getting sick! Well the answer most of the time ends of being… sugar.
DID YOU KNOW?
1 tsp of sugar could suppress your immune system for 2 hours!
Too much sugar slows down and confuses the cells that make up your immune system. These cells normally attack bad bacteria throughout the day… a process that keeps you healthy throughout flu season.
WHAT IT MEANS?
Let’s say you start every day with a double-double (2 tsps of sugar), your immune system would be working sub-optimally for 4 hours. That means that for your entire morning at work (8am to 12pm), you can catch a bug from someone sick much more easily compared to if you skipped the sugar in your coffee that morning.
You can relate this theory to children’s health as well. If a child eats 1 bowl of Frosted Flakes cereal in the morning, that’s more than 11 g of sugar (which equals to 2.2 teaspoons of sugar) and will suppress their immune system for over 4 hours too. This means that all morning at school, they are more likely to catching a cold or the flu solely because of their sugary breakfast.
Think of someone you know who always seems to be sick. I’m thinking of someone on the top of my head who, also just so happens to drink a lot of sugary soda drinks.
I just got back from Europe where I went bit overboard on carbs and sweets. I was back to my regular diet when I returned but, on Saturday, I was really craving a gelato. I may have indulged my cravings on my way to the grocery store. Not surprisingly, that night I went to bed early feeling a little under the weather. Sure enough, I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and runny nose. I’m finally feeling better today (Tuesday) after a strict sugar-free diet and some intense self-care all week. My immune system clearly hates me when I eat sugar. It was a good reminder as cold and flu season approaches.
DEBATING A FLU SHOT?
I’ll leave you with a controversial question to think about. They say every year that the upcoming flu season is stronger than ever but what if the Standard American Diet (SAD) is just getting more “sad” / more sugary?