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The "Cold War"
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I enjoy the fall and winter months. I relish the cool, crisp weather, brightly colored leaves, fresh snow (when I don’t have to drive in it), cozy fires, wooly sweaters, and the warmth of the holidays. Yet, there is one thing I positively detest—the common cold. I hate that “run-over-by-a-freight train” feeling, fevers, stuffy noses, and coughing. Now that I have children, cold and flu season is even worse. Germs breed rampantly amongst my preschool-aged kids and their runny-nosed little friends. This plethora of germs happily follows us home and sets up housekeeping in our apparently warm and welcoming (i.e. susceptible) nasal passages, throats, and lungs.

This year, I determined to make our family a little less warm and welcoming to these microscopic monsters, and with a little research, I formulated a battle plan. Most of my findings were things that I already knew. Things like scrupulous hand washing, getting adequate rest (at least 6-10 hours per night), eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (preferably raw) for a boost of vitamins and antioxidants, drinking water (divide your body weight by two, and that number equals your daily water intake in ounces), and spending time outside in the fresh air as much as possible.


My cold-busting confidence soared until I discovered what might be the single most important element in the battle to stay healthy. To the dismay of my insatiable sweet tooth, I learned that consumption of refined sugar greatly suppresses the body’s immune system. In a nutshell, your pancreas must secrete extra insulin in order to metabolize the sugar you eat. This insulin surplus hangs around in the bloodstream long after the sugar is taken care of. Unfortunately, insulin’s presence inhibits the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, and since growth hormone is a primary regulator of the immune system, this means trouble. When growth hormone is suppressed, your immune system is also suppressed. Sugar further wreaks havoc by interfering with the transport of vitamin C to various cells, including the white blood cells, which require vitamin C in order to destroy harmful viruses and bacteria in the body.

The article “Feeding Your Immune System” on AskDrSears.com, explained the effects of refined sugar in practical terms: “Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 Tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.”  No wonder we sniffle and sneeze our way through Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies and candy canes, Valentine’s Day chocolate, and Easter jelly beans.

I may catch a cold yet this season, but I won’t go down without a fight even if that means passing up the tasty treats.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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