Did you know…white sugar can paralyze white blood cells (aka your immune system)?

To start, what are white blood cells (WBC’s)? WBC’s are the soldiers of our immune system, found throughout the body, protecting us from infectious disease and foreign invaders. They work with other organs and systems in the body to help us fight colds, heal quickly, and avoid imbalances like eczema and diseases like cancer. They are also called leukocytes, derived from 2 Greek words: ‘leuk’ meaning ‘white’ and ‘cyte’ meaning ‘cell’. Basically, the better these white blood cells work, the healthier we will be.

What does sugar (and other sweets) do to these cells? According to the book Eating Alive by Dr. Jonn Matsen, studies have shown that eating white sugar and other sweets can paralyze the white blood cells for half an hour or more. Other studies have shown that the amount of sugar you find in a 1L bottle of soda (about 100g of sugar) makes your white blood cells 40% less effective at killing germs, which can negatively impact your immune system for up to 5 hours after consumption.

What is the bottom line?

  1. If your immune system isn’t functioning optimally, you are more susceptible to diseases from allergies to fatigue to premature aging to cancer. (By the way, even if you say you never get sick, it doesn’t mean your immune system is perfect!)
  2. As much as you possibly can, avoid refined, processed sugar. Do your best to avoid foods like flavoured lattes (sorry vanilla latte lovers!), cereals (many of which are marketed to kids!), desserts, pop, ice cream and watch out for ingredients like table sugar, cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose and glucose.
  3. To replace the white, processed sugar (in candy, cakes, ice cream, desserts), choose NATURAL alternatives (ie/REAL FOOD) that your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest:
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw, unpasteurized honey
  • Dates, date sugar or date syrup
  • Coconut sugar

And as always, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables of all colours – red, orange, yellow, green, purple. They are a great source of vitamin C and other nutrients that help build immune system function.

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