As we all know, the holidays – particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas – are a notorious time for over-indulgence. Great meals, holiday parties, and an overabundance of sugary treats are readily available during this time of year. These can all be disasters-in-the-making for a person with diabetes, but they can also be detrimental to the health of all of us.
This Christmas shift your focus away from traditional indulgences, for the health of your family. More emphasis on the original intent of the holiday would be a great way to do this!
Sugar is known to suppress the immune system, mess up your digestive system and cause a long list of side effects that are harsh enough to cause havoc all over your body. If you have an autoimmune disorder sugar becomes even more of a problem. In the book “Get The Sugar Out” by Ann Louise Gittleman M.S. C.N.S, Ms. Gittleman says, “No matter what form it takes, sugar paralyzes the immune system in a variety of ways:
- It destroys the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion.
- It reduces the production of antibodies; proteins that combine with and inactivate foreign invaders in the body.
- It interferes with the transport of vitamin C, one of the most important nutrients for all facets of immune function.
- It causes mineral imbalances and sometimes allergic reactions, both of which weaken the immune system.
- It neutralizes the action of essential fatty acids, thus making cells more permeable to invasion by allergens and microorganisms.”
Every year in the winter there’s more children getting diabetes than at any other time of the year. Scientists don’t know what causes type 1 diabetes, but they believe it is triggered by environmental factors, including foods such as cow’s milk and gluten, bacteria and viruses in people who are genetically susceptible. So far, influenza A specifically has not been shown to trigger type 1 diabetes but other viruses like enteroviruses, which affect the gut immune system, have.
Scientists think that such viruses and other environmental factors trigger the autoimmune reaction repeatedly over many years. Each episode reduces the number of insulin producing beta cells until finally there are too few left and the person develops type 1 diabetes.
Sugar suppresses the immune system. Virus season coincides with peak season for the incidence of type 1 diabetes. We may be setting up our loved ones for lifelong health consequences by holding to the sweets, treats and unhealthy eats of our traditions. In the past, I never thought of food in these terms. I do now.
Perhaps a conscious effort to shift the focus more toward the reason for the season would be beneficial to our health, and that of our loved ones. It is unfortunate that it usually takes a health crisis to wake us up to the consequences of our lifestyles and eating habits.
Let’s all have a merry, but healthy holiday season this year!
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