For many years, and way before I found cultured foods, we would travel to my mom’s house in Virginia for Christmas. It was a twenty-hour car ride from my home in Kansas City and we would often drive all night to get there so the kids would sleep. We would always be exhausted by the time we arrived at my mom’s home. In anticipation of our arrival, my family would make buckets – and I mean buckets! – of sugar cookies. It was my grandma’s sugar cookie recipe and it was a Christmas tradition. We would eat them the whole time we were there. Inevitably, someone in the house would get sick and then it would spread through the grandkids and adults.
It happened every year, and so much so that we would always say, “Well, we always get sick at Christmas,” and we just thought it was because we were all in close proximity to each other and spreading germs. Those cookies were so addictive that we couldn’t stop eating them. My husband told me that one night he was tired and sleepy and not hungry but he still dragged himself to the kitchen and had another sugar cookie. These cookies were covered in sprinkles and they would fall off, so he ate them over the trash can as to not get them on the carpet. Good lord, it was crazy.
The Immune System Connection
Sugar, Microbes, and Vitamin C
Sugar drops your immune system by 75%
One of the things that can affect your immune system is eating sugar. This is the reason my family always got sick at Christmas. We had way too much sugar during the holidays and it lowered our immune system’s ability to keep us well. Let’s talk about this in regards to vitamin C. In the 1970’s, Dr. Linus Pauling (one of the greatest researchers in the field of microbiology) discovered that vitamin C helps the body combat the common cold. But what he also found was how sugar can do the opposite.
Your cells think sugar is vitamin C
Vitamin C is used by white blood cells to engulf and absorb viruses and harmful bacteria. White blood cells need to contain 50 times the concentration of vitamin C as would normally be found in the blood around it. Sugar or glucose has a very similar chemical structure to vitamin C; so when you eat sugar, your cells hungrily take in the sugar thinking it is vitamin C. The 50% concentration of vitamin C in your cells starts to drop and your immune system’s ability to fight a virus is reduced by 75%. It can take four to six hours for the vitamin C concentration in the white blood cells to go back to the normal concentration and to be able to function at the highest level again. So it’s not a great idea, and especially if you’re sick, to eat any kind of sugar, because the white blood cells can’t get past the sugar to do their job. So this is why we all got sick every Christmas. Our bodies lost their superpower strength to keep us healthy because we were eating so much sugar and crashing our immune system again and again.
inner ecosystem help
Inside your body is a thriving inner ecosystem of microflora (good bacteria and yeasts) that keep you healthy and strong. These healthy bacteria and yeasts help you digest food, absorb nutrients, regulate your blood sugar, control food cravings, and manufacture vitamins and minerals. The secret to helping them is feeding them with probiotic-rich foods and lots of prebiotics in the form of fruits and veggies as well as lots of soluble fiber. I’m not saying you can never have sugar again, but you won’t be craving it like before and your body will balance this for you. I have so many recipes that you can make on my site and in my books that not only satisfy your sweet craving but replenish your microbes. Then if you do eat sugar, those busy microbes will help reduce the effect on your immune system and you won’t be like an addict craving sugar. It took a little bit of time to grow into this new lifestyle, but now it feels effortless. Let me give you a few things that will really help you.
What You Can Do
Listen to my podcast
There are certain times of the year when you need to strengthen your inner micro-biome and the holidays is one of those times. Find out how in this upcoming show. ‘Tis the season to be happy! It’s easy, fun, and delicious!