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Glucose and Immunity

Authors: Jack Challem, Burton Berkson, M.D., Ph.D., Melissa Diane Smith
Source: Syndrome X

Glucose and Immunity

Eating sugar  reduces the body’s ability to fight infections. In 1908, researchers noted that diabetics were more susceptible than non-diabetics to infection. It took researchers until 1942 to discover that the bacteria-engulfing white blood cells of diabetics were essentially sleeping on the job.

Subsequent studies confirmed that high concentrations of glucose in the blood reduces the ability of white blood cells to capture bacteria. For example, researchers at Loma Linda University, California, found that white blood cells from people who ate the equivalent of a candy bar and a soft drink could capture only one tenth of the bacteria, compared with people who ate only half of the candy bar. The reduced immune responsiveness occurred within only 45 minutes, meaning that sugar greatly reduces a person’s ability to fight infections. Other research has found that dietary sugars reduce white blood cell activity by 50 percent, with the effect lasting for five hours-more than enough time for the average person to have another hit of immune-depressing sugar.

In similar experiments, researchers at Utah State University, Logan, tested the effect of different diets on antibody production in laboratory rats. Antibodies are very complex immune compounds designed to combat specific bacteria and viruses. The researchers found that as little as a 10 percent decrease in the nutritional quality of the diet (e.g., 10 percent more sugar and 10 percent less protein, vitamins, and minerals) decreased antibody production by 50 percent. When the amount of sugar in the diet was increased to 75 percent and other nutrients decreased to 25 percent, antibody production dropped by 90 percent. Such changes, in people, would greatly increase susceptibility to infection.