Isn’t it amazing that we sometimes forget how much it sucks to be sick? Feverish, body aching, runny nose, coughing with a sore throat… Suckfest! Who would sign up for any of that? Whether you sign up for it or not, flu season is upon us, but in my opinion, it’s not because it’s colder outside. To limit the number of times you catch a cold or the flu this season, I first recommend understanding the basics of how your immune system fights off invaders.
Here is an important factor about immune function that we aren’t taught in school: Calcium is needed at the tissue level in order for your immune system to be triggered when you have an invader. If calcium isn’t there, the alarms never sound. That doesn’t mean you need to supplement calcium. Many people have all the calcium they need it’s just in the wrong places. Picture it like a security guard at the bank who does his job blindfolded. If he can’t see the teller being robbed, it may reduce how well he does his job. A similar issue can occur when too much calcium leaves the tissues. Without that calcium, the signal that tells the immune system to attack never gets through.
When sugar enters the body, or when carbohydrates are converted to sugar in the bloodstream, calcium will leave the tissues to follow that sugar. Once the sugar is burned, the calcium may be dropped and deposited into joints or other places where it doesn’t belong. This lack of tissue calcium can set you up for poor immune system function. After all, how is your immune system supposed to function if it doesn’t even know it’s time to go to work?
What does this have to do with flu season? What happens as the weather starts to turn cold? You dress up like R2D2 and ask our neighbors for candy. Halloween!!! If you can trick or treat like a champion, your bag of candy will last you through November. Thanksgiving shows up and you have 7 pies in the fridge. You devour those pies just in time for holiday parties and those platters of cookies and other treats that start to show up at your office on a daily basis. Another basket of muffins? Really? For New Year’s Eve, you’re drinking champagne. Finally, you wrap up the season with a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. With this onslaught of sugar pulsing through our bloodstream, how are you supposed to keep any calcium at the tissue level so that your immune system can function?
I don’t view flu season as the time when it’s cold out so we’re more susceptible to the flu. It’s flu season because that’s when all the sugar invades and takes over our world. Yes, severely cold weather is an added stress on the body, and any number of added stresses can be enough of an additional burden to restrict optimal immune function. However, in most cases, if a person has the right amount of calcium at the tissue level, cold weather alone is not enough to restrict immune function. It can simply exacerbate an already compromised immune system.
Every week we hear about another herb or supplement that is supposed to improve immunity. Why not set up your physiology in a way that your immune system can simply be called into action? To bolster your immune system this season, reduce your sugar and starch consumption to allow more calcium to exist at the tissue level. Liquid sugars, like soda or alcohol, can be the worst culprits. Since liquid sugars can hit the bloodstream faster, they often pull even more calcium out of the tissues when consumed. With this in mind, that orange juice that your Grandmother always gave you when when you were sick may not have been the best idea. Liquids and vitamin C are both very important when it comes to fighting off a cold, but supplying these properties in the form of liquid sugar is not the most effective strategy.
Using a whole food form of vitamin C, however, can give the immune system more of the tools it needs to fight off invaders, but unless the calcium is where it supposed to be, the “attack” part of the immune process can be skipped for many individuals. I like to supplement with Bio-C from Empirical labs or Living Vitamin C from Garden of Life during cold and flu season. Since humans, guinea pigs and primates are the only mammals that don’t make their own vitamin C, it can be important to make sure your body has enough vitamin C. However, this step still takes a back seat to ensuring calcium exists at the tissue level. When you eat sugars and excess starches that pull too much calcium out of the tissues, all the vitamin C in the world won’t help if the immune system never gets the memo to attack.
To better understand the common cold and steps you can take to bolster your immune system, listen to our Kick It Naturally episode, Understanding the Common Cold.
Listen on iTunes HERE
or on Stitcher for Android HERE
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