Have you ever sat back and wondered why “flu season” starts around mid-October and lasts all the way until March/April? What is going on this time of year that makes our bodies an ideal environment for these microbes to thrive?
This is the time of year when sugar is in abundance! It starts with Halloween, continues with Thanksgiving, gets a huge boost at Christmas/Hanukkah, continues at Super Bowl parties, gets a big chocolate kiss at Valentine’s Day, and ends with Easter candy!
Sugar and its effect on the immune system has been studied since the early 1970s. It has been proven time and again that simple sugars can suppress the immune system for hours after ingestion. It does this by affecting the function of neutrophils, the major immune cell that engulfs and destroys microbes. A normal, healthy white blood cell can destroy an average of 13 germs. Consuming only 4 grams of sugar weakens our white blood cells so that they can only destroy about 10 microbes. Increase this sugar consumption to 50 grams and our white blood cells can now only destroy about 5-6 microbes! To put this into perspective, one miniature Hershey’s bar contains 4 grams of sugar, one miniature Three Musketeer contains 11 grams of sugar, 8 gummy bears contain 21 grams of sugar, and your typical slice of pie with one scoop of ice cream packs a powerful 50 grams of sugar! Think about how much candy kids eat starting on Halloween night, and it no longer becomes a mystery as to why flu season is in full swing in early November.
The Vitamin D Connection
Our bodies synthesize vitamin D3 from the UV rays of the sun. When the weather begins to cool down and our clothing layers come out of the attic, our skin is no longer exposed to the sun’s rays, making it next to impossible for our bodies to synthesize vitamin D. Research has shown that vitamin D3 encourages the production of antimicrobial peptides known as cathelicidins. These polypeptides play a critical role in the body’s immune defense against microbes. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 during the fall and winter months is a great way to help support the immune system. (We recommend 5,000 iu per day for adults, and 1,000 iu per every 25 pounds of body weight for children in the fall/winter months.)
Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful. Whether it is dealing with out-of-town family, fighting the shopping crowds, or figuring out how to pay for the extra holiday expenses, our adrenal glands are in over drive. They enter into a state of constant “fight or flight” and begin producing large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol in the bloodstream suppress the immune system and can even stop the production of certain immune cells altogether. Supporting the adrenal glands nutritionally with Vitamins B and C, as well as taking an herbal supplement to support the adrenal glands, can be another way to support the immune system and stay healthy during “flu season.”
So if you want to keep your immune system strong this coming season, limit your sugar consumption, supplement with vitamin D3, and combat stress with natural supplements that promote healthy adrenal function and relaxation.
Longevity’s Nutrition Shoppe carries a wide variety of natural sleep remedies and mood-elevating products. Call or stop by to speak with one of our staff members about the best stress-relieving strategies and supplements for your family.