January is the time for colds and other viral infections! I have certainly noticed more people with colds since the holidays, including myself. Many patients ask what they can do to support healthy immunity.
First, there are some key nutrient levels I like to check via blood work including vitamin D levels. But in addition to making sure patients are supporting a healthy immune system with taking so key nutrients, I also like to talk about the role of SUGAR on the immune system.
I do my best to inform my patients of “obstacles to cures” — things that we do to HINDER our body from getting better. When it comes to colds/flus and other infections, we can significantly hinder the ability to recover with excess sugar consumption.
There are some key studies that have been done on the role of dietary sugars and their impact on immune health:
An older research study found that excess sugar consumption — especially in the form of fructose, sucrose, honey, glucose and orange juice — depresses the ability of neutrophils to destroy bacteria for up to 5 hours (1). A more recent study found that fructose (ie. high fructose corn syrup) inhibited the immune system’s ability to fight off both bacteria and viruses, while sucrose only impaired the ability to fight off bacteria and fungi (2). Carbs did not seem to negatively impact immune function in the study.
When it comes to food poisoning, animal studies have found protein- and fat-rich diets were protective against listeria poisoning, while a glucose- and carb-rich diets inhibited the ability to recover.
When it comes to health conditions, type 2 diabetes in particular is linked to higher risks of infection. One study found that patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes experienced more severe infections and had a higher mortality rate from infection than patients with well-controlledtype 2 diabetes (3).
So what does this mean when it comes to making meals and snacks while trying to recover from an infection? Meals and snacks should be:
Interestingly enough, I notice with myself, that if I have a sore throat even a small glass of orange juice can really make my throat worse for a number of hours. I almost turn into the “sugar police” when I am sick! I do my best to make tasty meals that have absolutely NO SUGAR at all.
This above photo is an example of a pancake recipe I made recently that contains absolutely no added sugar at all. Its easy to do and it tastes oh so delicious! See the recipe below:
What are you doing to support your immune system this winter?! Call Dalhousie Health & Wellness to make an appointment with your naturopath to help support your immune system!
(1) Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, U. D. Register, Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 26, Issue 11, November 1973, Pages 1180–1184, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/26.11.1180
(2) Kazue Takahashi1, Wei-Chuan Chang1, Patience Moyo1, Mitchell R. White2, Parool Meelu3, Anamika Verma2, Gregory L. Stahl4, Kevan L. Hartshorn2, Vijay Yajnik3. Dietary sugars inhibit biologic functions of the pattern recognition molecule, mannose-binding lectin. Open Journal of Immunology. Vol.1, No.2, 41-49 (2011). doi:10.4236/oji.2011.12005
(3) Lihua Zhu, Zhi-Gang She, Xu Cheng, Juan-Juan Qin, Xiao-Jing Zhang, Jingjing Cai, Fang Lei, Haitao Wang, Jing Xie, Wenxin Wang, Haomiao Li, Peng Zhang, Xiaohui Song, Xi Chen, Mei Xiang, Chaozheng Zhang, Liangjie Bai, Da Xiang, Ming-Ming Chen, Yanqiong Liu, Youqin Yan, Mingyu Liu, Weiming Mao, Jinjing Zou, Liming Liu, Guohua Chen, Pengcheng Luo, Bing Xiao, Changjiang Zhang, Zixiong Zhang, Zhigang Lu, Junhai Wang, Haofeng Lu, Xigang Xia, Daihong Wang, Xiaofeng Liao, Gang Peng, Ping Ye, Jun Yang, Yufeng Yuan, Xiaodong Huang, Jiao Guo, Bing-Hong Zhang, Hongliang Li. Association of Blood Glucose Control and Outcomes in Patients with COVID-19 and Pre-existing Type 2 Diabetes. Cell Metabolism, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.04.021