Why Does Everybody Get So Sick Every Winter?©

Why Does Everybody Get So Sick Every Winter?©

It happens in November. You feel it coming. It’s the winter virus season. I have a theory about why everyone seems to succumb to these winter illnesses with such striking regularity, and why the cycle seems to continue throughout the duration of winter.

It really begins in late October, otherwise known as “candy season,” or Halloween. That’s when the entire country conspires to shut down the immune systems of every trick-or-treating child and every candy-bucket-thieving parent all on the same night.

When a person consumes white sugar, or things made with lots of it, the immune system shuts down. The lymphocytic index is a measure of how many bacteria a white blood cell can eat in one hour. The average index for a normal healthy cell is 13.6. When you eat white sugar the index drops to 1.3 in less than one hour and it stays down for four to six hours. How much sugar does it take to stop up your child’s system this way? The amount found in one regular candy bar or half a can of pop will sideline your child’s defense system for four to six hours.

How often do they raid the candy stash? How often do you raid it? If it happens more than once, you’ll spend an entire day with no defense against rampaging viruses and bacteria. The pop tarts and sugary breakfast cereals, the waffles and pancakes with syrup, the individually wrapped goodies in the lunch bag, the after-dinner pie or ice-cream, and of course, the pop, are as bad as the candy even though we’re more tempted to think they’re ok.

If Halloween isn’t enough to do us all in, there’s still Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. There will be cookie exchanges and stockings full of candy, candy canes and gingerbread – all of our traditions are such a public health nuisance! We need to establish some newer healthier traditions.

Another major event impacting health this time of year is the changing of the clocks. It seems like a blessing to set the clock back, but your body doesn’t think so. That extra hour to get more done costs us all dearly. The most valuable sleep occurs between 10 pm and 2 am. This is the time for your body to repair damage you’ve done during the day. Not many people go to bed at 10 pm, so they’ve already lost some of that window. But once we change the clocks, 10:00 is what we were calling 11:00. If you stay up until 11:00 normally, that’s the new 12:00 from your body’s perspective. You’ve lost half of that valuable sleep time. That’s a lot of repair work not getting done.

The third factor has to do with the weather. During the winter, the sun is farther from most of us and available for a shorter portion of the day. It’s also so cold most of us don’t want to go outside anyway, and especially not without covering up every square inch of skin. The result is that our vitamin D levels drop off during the winter. Vitamin D levels are highly associated with improved immunity. It is a known fact that those with higher vitamin D levels are far less likely to catch the flu.

So what can you do to improve your odds of staying healthy this winter? Here’s the short, and not so sweet, list: just say no to the candy, choose healthier foods, improve your traditions, go to bed earlier during the winter, and take some supplemental vitamin D3. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more if you and your children stay well. Your health is in your hands.

Nutritional Health Education Center • 141 N. 3rd Street, Suite 5 • Danville, KY 40422
www.awesomehealthmakeover.com 859-236-3234
Dr. J.L. Fortner ND, Director

Why Does Everybody Get So Sick Every Winter?©