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Sugar addict? Take extra vitamin C

That muffin and double double on the way to work is doing more than just spiking blood sugar levels, forcing the pancreas into overdrive. It’s confusing the heck out of the immune system. Here’s why.

Vitamin C and the sugar molecule glucose have a very similar molecular structure. When white blood cells start pulling in vitamin C from the blood stream to defend against viruses, they sometimes get confused and pull in glucose instead. Pulling in glucose causes the concentration of vitamin C in the white blood cells to drop. It then knocks one’s immune defences down for hours at a time, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

And, if there are not enough vitamin C stores in the bloodstream to begin with, the body’s ability to defend against disease and illness becomes chronically impaired.

It’s no secret vitamin C plays a vital role in the body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria and chronic disease. Dr. Linus Pauling, one of the world’s greatest microbiology researchers, proved it in the 1970s. Pauling discovered that in order for white blood cells to be able to destroy bacteria and viruses, the white blood cells must continually accumulate vitamin C. In fact, 50 times the concentration of vitamin C that would usually be found in the blood surrounding the cell is the concentration that is needed to adequately defend the body from invaders.

Studies have found the ability of phagocytes (white blood cells that engulf and destroy bacteria and viruses, and dead cells) can be impaired by 75 per cent at a blood sugar level of 120mg/dL. Diabetes Canada notes a blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. 

The average Canadian consumes the equivalent of 26 teaspoons of sugar (about 110 grams) daily, according to Statistics Canada.

The study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the white blood cell’s ability to destroy viruses and bacteria became impaired within one hour of ingesting 100mg of simple sugars – like those found in fruit juices, soda, cookies. The effect on the immune system lasted up to five hours.

Health professionals stress the need to eat a diet rich in vitamin C for health maintenance. Aside from encapsulated liposomal vitamin C, much of the vitamin C from supplements is excreted through the kidneys before it reaches the inside of a cell, according to Dr. Thomas Levy, a cardiologist and expert in high dose vitamin C. Couple that with a high-sugar diet that inhibits the vitamin C from fighting off infection, and it may create an internal environment that allows chronic disease to take hold in the long run.

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