How Sugar Disables Your Immune System

How Sugar Disables Your Immune System

One of the easiest strategies to preserve immune function is to avoid refined sugar. Sugar has a significant disabling effect on our immune system which means, if you’re consuming it, you are more at risk of picking up what’s going around – and less able to fight something off should you catch it. In a nutshell, sugar has a negative impact on our immunity due to it’s similarity in structure to vitamin C which – when taken up instead of vitamin C – renders white blood cells (WBCs) vulnerable. Let me explain that in a bit more detail. Sugar Blocks Vitamin C In order to get why this is such a big deal it is important to understand the role of Vitamin C in healthy immune function and the way our body uses it, and therefore how detrimental it is when sugar affects this. Firstly, WBCs (especially phagocytes and t-cells) accumulate 50-80 times more Vitamin C than the blood they’re carried in – and for very good reason. In order to destroy germs, our WBCs produce highly toxic free radicals with which to destroy these bugs. To be more specific – in response to invading microorganisms (i.e. bacteria or viruses), phagocytic* WBCs actually release non-specific toxins, such as superoxide radicals, hypochlorous acid (‘bleach’), and peroxynitrite; these reactive oxygen species kill microorganisms but, in the process, can damage the WBCs themselves[1]. The accumulation of vitamin C to extremely high concentrations  is in order to protect themselves from the oxidative damage these toxins can do[2,3,4]  – and Vitamin C, through its antioxidant functions, has been shown to protect WBCs from this self-inflicted oxidative damage[5].  Vitamin C levels...
12-Hour Fasting – A Key Strategy For A Longer, Healthier Life

12-Hour Fasting – A Key Strategy For A Longer, Healthier Life

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know that if you want to be healthy, you should eat primarily healthy food. But what you might not know is, the timing of what you eat matters just as much as what you eat; and there is growing evidence that 12-hour fasting is so protective of health that it can even attenuate the effects of a high-fat diet. What Is 12-Hour Fasting? Also called time-restricted feeding (TRF), 12-hour fasting confines food consumption to a 12-hour window or – put another way – is the practice of, during a 24-hour period, maintaining a 12-hour window where no food is consumed. In practice this may mean that any and all meals/snacks are consumed between 7am and 7pm, with no food being consumed between 7pm and 7am (or 8am-8pm as another example). Some studies actually define time-restricted feeding as an 8-9 hour period, which also shows benefit although not as realistic or easy to achieve as 12 hours. But Why? There has been a lot of research done on many different types and variations of fasting, but I like this particular type of fasting for both what the evidence says, and the logic behind it. There was a time when, in all likelihood, humankind rose with the sun – and days effectively ended with sundown. With no electricity, and only flame for light, food preparation and consumption would have been mostly confined to daylight hours. Nowadays, with access to electricity, we can make meals in the dark well before dawn, and – especially given the long hours some of us keep – make dinner well...
Sugar Shortens Your Life

Sugar Shortens Your Life

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will know I am President of the ‘I Hate Sugar Club‘ but, given we’re in the midst of the silly season of socialising, I thought this article on the hazards of sugar was timely. What am I talking about? Well, the American Journal of Public Health recently published an article (16-10-14) that revealed an association between drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks and the presence of shorter telomeres. Now, don’t worry if you’re thinking ‘telo-what?!’ – allow me to explain. Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes that naturally shorten with each cell cycle. Increased telomere shortening has been associated with oxidative damage, inflammation and chronic diseases, including diabetes. Basically the shorter the telomeres, the shorter the life of the cell… and ultimately you. This study included 5,309 men and women between 20-65 years of age enrolled in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the researchers: Analysed the participants 24-hour dietary questionnaire responses for sugar-sweetened soft drink, diet soft drink, noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverage and fruit juice intake Measured white blood cell telomere length (at UCSF lab of study coauthor and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD) Researchers found that increased sugar-sweetened soft drink intake was associated with a reduction in telomere length.   “It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres,” noted lead author Cindy Leung, of the UCSF Center for Health and Community. “Here it appeared that the only beverage consumption that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was consumption of...
Sugar Causes Brain Damage

Sugar Causes Brain Damage

A poor diet is not good for your body, or your brain. Added sugar is one of the single greatest dietary problems we face, not only because sugar is added to so many things but because it’s so addictive we can get hooked on it and actively seek it out! A new study in Neurology helps elucidate exactly how sugar damages our brain. It suggests that eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both brain structure and function. Diabetes, which is characterised by chronically high levels of blood glucose, has been linked to an elevated risk of dementia and a smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory. This new study sought to identify whether glucose had an effect on memory even in people without the disease. In the experiment, researchers at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin evaluated both short- and long-term glucose markers in 141 healthy, nondiabetic older adults. The participants performed a memory test and underwent imaging to assess the structure of their hippocampus (this part of the brain is critical for remembering!). Higher levels on both glucose measures were associated with worse memory, as well as a smaller hippocampus and compromised hippocampal structure. These findings indicate that even in the absence of diabetes or glucose intolerance, higher blood sugar may harm the brain and disrupt memory function. An earlier study demonstrated that high blood sugar can actually shrink your whole brain, not just your hippocampus! Future research will need to identify how glucose exerts these effects and whether dietary or lifestyle interventions might reverse such pathological changes. Let’s hope so! [Source: Scientific American Volume...
Healthy Reasons to Eat Chocolate. Yes. CHOCOLATE!

Healthy Reasons to Eat Chocolate. Yes. CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice Good news for all the chocolate lovers out there (including this one!), new research has found this divine food has even more health boosting advantages than previously recognised. Not only does it enhance both cardiovascular and mental well-being, but it also lowers body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance. However, before consuming chocolate with wild abandon, it’s important to discern between the different varieties – and choose only superfood grades for ultimate benefit.          Food of the Gods (and Mere Mortals too) Relished for over 3,000 years, chocolate (also known as cacao in its purest form) has been used as a potent tonic, aphrodisiac and mighty food across cultures and continents. The ancient Aztecs raised cacao worship to new levels, reserving it for royalty and specific ceremonies. Europeans stumbled upon the delights of this strange ‘almond’ while exploring the New World and quickly adopted it as a remedy for fevers, mental fatigue, tuberculosis, poor digestion and gout. Fast forward to the present day and modern research has uncovered still more health-enhancing features of this magical bean. Live your Bliss with Chocolate Containing a cornucopia of beneficial compounds, cacao has been shown to alleviate a wide-range of health complaints. But to reap the benefits, only high quality chocolate will do. Focus on raw, organic, dark cacao. And remember, the higher the percentage of chocolate, the lower the sugar. Below are some of the perks associated with this tasty superfood. Cardiovascular – Of all the known edibles, cacao ranks the highest in beneficial antioxidant polyphenols that curb heart disease. A study at the University of California Department of Nutrition in...