Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sugar and the Immune System

A couple of times now I've mentioned how I'm not eating sugar. 42 years of experimentation has shown me that I simply feel better when not consuming the stuff. It used to be that I could have a little, but it seems that with age even that has changed.

I know that certain people out there don't necessarily believe that sugar is a hindrance to the immune system, and for many of you it may not be. Or your immune systems may be strong enough to fight through any ill effects, but I thought I'd share a little something that just came to me today through an e-mail from Dr. Mercola. Dr. Mercola is a medically trained doctor who believes in nutritional and alternative treatments for things. He has been on Dr. Oz and seems to be a really wise person. (He does have a lot of products for sale on his site, but I ignore that and just read his research - which is well cited).

So here it is. The five reasons he states for having an impaired immune system (which you have if you come down with a cold):

1. Eating too much sugar or too many grains (note - number 1 reason)
2. Not getting enough rest
3. Using insufficient strategies to address emotional stressors in your life
4. Vitamin D deficiency
5. Any combination of the above.

Now, currently having a cold, I may not be the poster child for eliminating sugar, getting lots of sleep and taking Vitamin D (still not sure how well I deal with life's stresses!). But let me put this into perspective: by the time I was in graduate school (and even before), every time I got a cold it would turn into bronchitis and last 3 weeks. I'd be on antibiotics each time. One time I was on antibiotics three doses in a row and the last one was a double dose of a very powerful antibiotic. That's not good for you.

Over the past year or so, I've managed not to have to go on antibiotics at all - last year the colds still lasted up to 3 weeks, but I fought off the infections. And this fall, the one time (previously) that I had a cold, it's lasted the expected 7-10 days (start to finish) and was a fraction of the pain colds used to be. Definite, significant improvement has been noted.

Now, reflecting on number 4, I was thinking this morning as I drove my son to school and my husband to work (ah the joys of owning only one car), that I don't really care for this time of year in Central Alberta. I mean, it's beautiful outside, the air is never crisper than when it's -30C (which it is the morning thanks to the jet stream, apparently), but for those precious few hours when the sun is out, it is always in the bottom 1/5 of the sky, blinding you at every turn. It's dark at 7:30 in the morning and at 4:30 at night. And there is no hope of getting any Vitamin D naturally. As a matter of fact, I've heard that anyone living this far North will ALWAYS have a Vitamin D deficiency - you simply can't get enough sunshine up here to last you the year. I certainly have noticed a difference since I started taking Vitamin D last Christmas (thanks Krystal for that tip).

So, if you want to, take a look at Mercola's site and think about his tips. Most of them are pretty easy to implement, and some of them are making a world of difference to me. Of course, if I come down with bronchitis in the next week I'll have to take this all back, but for now I seem to be on my way up.

Hope all of you out there are and stay healthy!

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