Have A Cold Or Flu? Cut Out The Sugar!
The New Fat
In the past, we used to focus on the evils of fat. We believed that in order to stay healthy and lose weight, we had to be careful about how much fat we consumed.
If you were like many of us and often too easily tempted by the irresistible looking cookies and sweets available at our local supermarket shelves, we thought we were making the healthy choice by opting for the “fat-free” cookies. Remember those?
Instead of fat, they replaced it for more sugar or carbohydrates which were not seen as being bad or evil at the time. Ever wonder why it is hard to find those “fat-free” cookies nowadays?
Well, times have changed. Not only are all fats not that bad for us, some fats are actually even good for us. We now know that fat is important in the production of healthy cells as well as controlling our cholesterol levels.
Good fats provide a healthy source of energy and help us feel full. Instead, we should consider re-thinking our intake of carbohydrates or sugar due to the possible harmful effects it has on your body
Carbs, Carbs, Everwhere A Carb
Simple sugars, simple carbohydrates, complex carbs, cane sugar, artificial sweeteners – it can be very confusing at times. Let us start with simple carbohydrates or carbs. Simple carbs are also known as refined or processed carbs. These include such foods as white bread, pasta and rice, baked goods, breakfast cereals, pop and cookies.
They are simple or refined because they have had a lot of the nutritional value removed from the original food source. Because of their chemical makeup, simple carbs are easily broken down in your bodies into sugar. Some examples of sugar include glucose and fructose
Sugar And Our Immune System
For your immune system to properly fight off an infection, your immune cells need lots of vitamin C. The problem with sugar is that it looks similar to vitamin C. As a result, your immune cells sometime mistakenly take up the sugar rather than vitamin C, especially if there is an influx of sugar into your blood stream. By doing so, your immune system is not as effective at fighting off an infection as compared to if your immune cells were to take up vitamin C.
Possibly a weaker immune reaction
An earlier study had suggested that there may be a connection between sugar and the immune cells in your body being able to properly fight off an infection. As a result, your immune response would be weaker and you would have a more difficult time fighting off the infection. However, there needs to be more research into this link.
Too much inflammation
Another effect sugar may have on your immune system is through inflammation. Sugar has been shown to trigger an inflammatory response in your body. This response could lead to damage in your cells, heart and other organs. Due to this effect on your organs, your body would then have a more difficult time fighting off the infection
A good alternative is to eat foods with complex or non-refined carbs. Not only do complex carbs have much more nutritional value than simple carbs, they are also broken down much more slowly in our body.
This slower breakdown results in little change to our blood sugar levels, unlike the rapid rise we see when we take in simple carbs. This helps to avoid hampering our immune system during an infection. Complex carbs are found in foods such as whole wheat breads, brown rice, many fruits and vegetables.
So if you are sick or feel like you are coming down with something like a cold or a flu, it is important to re-examine your intake of carbs and sugar in order to give your immune system the best chance to fight off whatever it is that is affecting you
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is sugar bad when your sick?
A: There are several research studies which have suggested that sugar may not be a good idea if you are sick. Some studies looked at the effect of eating sugar and the ability of your immune cells to respond. Other research has examined the effect on sugar, inflammation and the resulting organ damage which would lead to a reduced ability of your body to fight off an infection.
Also, it has been suggested sugar can interfere with your ability to absorb certain vitamins, again hampering your ability to combat the germs. So while it is not conclusive, you may want to consider reducing your sugar intake especially if you are feeling under the weather
Q: What should I not eat during a cold?
A: As suggested foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates may not be the best option for you considering the potential effects it has on your immune system and other body functions. Also, there is little nutritional value in many simple carbohydrates such as white breads, rice and pasta. Other foods you may want to avoid include coffee and alcohol as they both tend to rob your body of water which is important for your normal body functions.
Some foods you can try include the traditional chicken noodle soup. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, can help clear up congestion and soothes sore, painful throats. Citrus fruits can also be a good idea as they are high in vitamin C. However, if you have a sore throat, you may find it irritating to your throat. Also, other foods such as broccoli, blueberries and kale may be helpful in fighting off your cold
Q: Does sugar make a cough worse?
A: There is not a lot of evidence showing that sugar will worsen your cough. However, this does not change the fact sugar still has little nutritional value. Also, more research has suggested a possible link between sugar and a negative effect on your immune system, rather than helping your body fight off infection