The real reason why sugar weakens your immune system
(NaturalHealth365) The use of refined sugar has skyrocketed in America – and its overconsumption has placed an enormous burden on the immune system. Yet, the news you’re about to read is never mentioned in the lamestream media.
Historically speaking, in the early 1800s, the average American’s sugar consumption hovered at a modest few pounds over the course of an entire year. But, now, yearly sugar intake has soared to 155 pounds! There’s no doubt: this increase is directly connected to horrible health outcomes.
For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now warns that a shocking two out of three adults in the United States are currently overweight or obese – placing the majority of Americans at increased risk for life-threatening diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease.
How is all of this related to the immune system? There’s now evidence that the excessive sugar in American diets may jeopardize the body’s supply of essential vitamin C – and “handcuff” our ability to maintain a healthy immune system.
Immune system WARNING: Diets high in sugar can cause glucose to “compete” with vitamin C
Unlike other animals, which produce ascorbic acid (otherwise known as vitamin C) in their own bodies, humans must obtain this essential nutrient exclusively from diet or supplements.
However, due to the inadequacy of the Standard American Diet (accurately abbreviated as SAD), many people have insufficient levels of vitamin C – a state of affairs that plays havoc with heart and immune system health. In fact, renowned physician Dr. Mathias Rath, who worked in collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling, maintains that heart disease is really a severe vitamin C deficiency.
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And, when stores of vitamin C are already low, a diet high in refined sugar just might “put the icing on the cake,” in terms of creating an impaired immune system.
The Glucose-Ascorbate Antagonism Theory, first postulated by Dr. John Ely, an Emeritus Professor at University of Washington, illustrates the relationship between high blood sugar, diminished vitamin C and an impaired immune system.
Insulin, a hormone created in the pancreas, is responsible for transporting glucose (sugar) and ascorbic acid into cells. But, because these two nutrients use the same process (insulin-mediated uptake) to get into the cells, ascorbic acid is forced to compete with glucose – and often winds up on the losing end.
Dr. Jim Howenstine, author of “A Physician’s Guide to Natural Health Products That Work,” agrees, noting that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can decrease the amount of ascorbic acid that enters cells.
Alert: Vitamin C plays an indispensable role in immune health
When it comes to boosting the body’s defenses against pathogens and disease, vitamin C wears many hats. It’s no accident that Thomas Levy, MD, JD – a high-dose vitamin C advocate – refers to vitamin C as the “muscle” of the immune system.
Research has shown that vitamin C benefits the immune cells in a variety of ways.
It promotes the production of virus-fighting interferon, and enhances the function of immune system cells – including the phagocytic cells and the T-lymphocytes that boost immunity. It also supports and promotes the activity of cancer-fighting natural killer cells.
When excessive glucose threatens vitamin C levels, important disease-fighting pathways are weakened. Deficiencies in vitamin C can cause shortages of the genetic material needed to produce new leukocytes, white blood cells that fight infection.
In addition, ascorbic acid is needed to stimulate the production of NADPH. This substance helps phagocytic leukocytes – the “scavenger” cells that engulf and destroy foreign bodies and tumor cells in the blood – to produce the superoxide needed for the destruction of pathogens.
Dangerous duo: Combination of excessive glucose and reduced vitamin C signals big trouble for diabetic patients
As blood glucose levels rise, vitamin C is diminished throughout the body – and this lack of intracellular vitamin C can lead to the serious complications – such as blindness, nerve damage, amputations and impaired wound healing – that can affect those with prolonged type 2 diabetes.
According to the late Dr. Pauling, “Even minimally elevated blood sugar crowds out vitamin C from entering cells … more vitamin C must be taken by diabetics in order to for absorption to be achieved.”
And, excessive sugar harms vitamin C levels of diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
Many experts now believe that the inconclusive results of earlier research into the benefits of ascorbic acid can be attributed to the high levels of sugary foods and drinks ingested by the patients.
In other words, too much sugar in the diet can torpedo high-dose vitamin C therapies, including the Pauling Therapy. According to Dr. Howenstine, patients using a sugary drink to wash down vitamin C may “fail to show any benefit” from vitamin C therapy.
Note: other threats to vitamin C levels include cigarette smoking, alcohol use, antidepressants, NSAIDs, oral contraceptives, anticoagulants and sulfa drugs.
Boost intracellular vitamin C, improve heart disease and promote a strong immune system with proper nutrition
For high-dosage vitamin C therapy to work against heart disease, blood sugar must be kept low, and ingestion of simple carbohydrates kept to a minimum.
Experts advise that those who are treating heart disease with the Pauling Therapy – which calls for high daily doses of ascorbic acid, along with the amino acid lysine – should follow a low-carbohydrate, organic diet that is free of refined sugar, GMOs, pesticides and hormones.
It is also important to banish trans fats and hydrogenated oils, while consuming healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseed oil.
Note: Omega-3s can improve the function of cell membranes and facilitate the absorption of important nutrients. According to Dr. Howenstine, this is the primary reason that fish oils have been shown to be so beneficial to heart patients.
Supplemental vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, can help block the adverse effects of excessive glucose intake in patients with arteriosclerosis – and decrease heart attack deaths in women.
Alpha lipoic acid and the mineral zinc may also help with glucose control.
As always, consult your integrative doctor before supplementing – and never reduce or stop taking your prescribed medication unless advised to do so by a physician.
Remember: a strong natural defense system can help protect against the innumerable environmental toxins and pathogens that threaten us daily. Maybe it’s time to stop crippling our valuable immune systems with refined sugar.
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Sources for this article include: