Afraid of Swine Flu? Stop Eating Carbohydrates!

The Swine Flu is taking over the world. It started in Mexico and is spreading quickly. Cuba suspended flights to and from Mexico on Tuesday, becoming the first country to impose a travel ban, as the fast-moving swine flu strain extended its reach overseas and in the United States. Later in the day Argentina also announced the suspension of flights from Mexico as a precaution against the spread of swine flu and called on tens of thousands of visitors from North America to contact the Health Ministry.

World health officials in Geneva said they believed the virus appears to be establishing itself in communities and be able to produce larger outbreaks outside Mexico. In the U.S., there were new reports of hospitalizations among those affected, and officials are watching for a potential flu pandemic. Mexico City closed gyms, swimming pools and pool halls on Tuesday, and ordered restaurants to limit service to takeout — extending a growing shutdown that already included schools, state-run theaters and other public places.

Like the virus itself, the name “swine flu” is spreading quickly. For the pork purveyors and hog farmers who make up the nation’s $15 billion pork industry, that’s a disaster. It doesn’t seem to matter that the strain may not come entirely from pigs and cannot be spread by eating pork. Hog prices are already dropping as financial markets worry people will have second thoughts about buying “the other white meat.”

“It’s killing our markets,” said Francis Gilmore, 72, who runs a 600-hog operation in Perry, outside Des Moines, and worries his small business could be ruined by the crisis. “Where they got the name, I just don’t know.”

Every few weeks, there is another challenge to our already compromised immune systems. Has this “flu” always been with us and we are now susceptible to it, or is this something brand new? There are many conditions in Western industrialised societies today that were unheard of, or at least very rare, just a century ago. The same conditions are still unheard of in primitive peoples who do not have the ‘benefits’ of our knowledge. There is a very good reason for this: They eat what Nature intended; we don’t.

How does a zero-carb advocate such as myself view this current nightmare? Well, I went and supported my local pork producers today and my son and I dined at “The Pit“ and experienced Ed Mitchell’s special Carolina-style ribs.  Since 2007, I have not been sick in the slightest and the longer I have avoided carbohydrates, the stronger my immune system has become. How is this possible?

Dr. Barry Groves opines as follows:

Have you noticed how many cases of meningitis there seem to be, these days? I don’t think I heard the word in my youth. There are also many other infectious diseases that seem to have started only in the late twentieth century: Lots of acronyms like SARS, AIDS, and MRSA; the exotically named necrotising fasciitis which has a nasty habit of eating us alive; Clostridium difficile, which has taken over from MRSA as a killer hospital disease; a different flu every year; I won’t go on. Even tuberculosis, which was thought in this country to have passed into history half a century ago, is returning. Why? What is happening?

Medical science has been able to prevent diphtheria and smallpox by vaccination. We reduced tuberculosis by pasteurization of milk and improved general hygiene. A clean water supply and proper sewage disposal prevented typhoid and cholera. But, today, we in Britain and the USA are protected from these diseases because we have been artificially immunized against them and cocooned from them; not because our bodies’ inherent ability to prevent infection has been strengthened. And therein lies the problem.

The microbiologist, Rene Dubos, wrote half a century ago in his book, Mirage of Health, that plants, animals and humans can live healthily side by side with their most notorious microbial enemies. “The world is obsessed by the fact that poliomyelitis can kill and maim several thousand unfortunate victims every year. But more extraordinary is the fact that millions upon millions of young people become infected by polio viruses, yet suffer no harm from the infection,” he wrote.

Dubos’ remarks might seem extraordinary but it is a common fact that infection can occur without producing disease. In a community properly endowed with health, the extraordinary event would be somebody getting sick at all. This is ably demonstrated in cultures other than ours (although they are becoming fewer as they succumb to Western dietary assaults.

We in the “civilized” countries are aware can no longer rely on antibiotics to treat our illnesses. As we’ve seen from the increasing spread of superbugs, antibiotics are fast losing the battle against infections. This is because the overuse of antibiotics has led to certain strains of bacteria developing a resistance to their action. In response, doctors have been forced to develop stronger and more toxic antibiotics to fight infections. This leads to increased side affects such as diarrhoea, vomiting, skin rashes, ringing in the ears, jaundice and, in rare cases, epileptic fits. At the same time, the bugs will continue to adapt and we progressively lose the battle.

In the constant fight against infectious diseases, our bodies have a sophisticated defence mechanism: Our immune system. When it is functioning properly, our immune system is far more effective than you might imagine. It can dismantle and rid the body of a transplanted kidney very quickly. It can do the same to invading bacteria and viruses if it is kept in good condition. Unfortunately, in our society the general level of health and, therefore, the general level of our immunity is marginal. We accept a high incidence of all kinds of infections, particularly colds, influenza, herpes, hepatitis, candida, and so on, as normal events we have to put up with. They aren’t.

We get these diseases because our immune systems aren’t up to the job. One way in which our immune systems are compromised is found in the so-called healthy carbohydrates we eat which lessen our white blood cells’ ability to mop up invading microbes. It is clear from these studies that, if you eat ‘five portions of fruit and veggies’ and base your meals on starchy foods, as we are all advised to do, you could lose a major part of your immunity to infection for the whole of the day.

Colds seem to be a fact of life and seemingly everyone gets them. They may be a nuisance but that’s all, isn’t it? You’d be surprised how dangerous the common cold can be. In 1954, the British Medical Journal published a paper showing that respiratory infections, particularly colds, were the most common irritating and aggravating factors in congestive heart failure. In two studies of incidences of heart failure, more than half the patients had some form of respiratory infection and a direct correlation was found between the frequent occurrence of heart failure and even minor colds. The common cold, it seems, can be deadly.

The role of refined carbohydrates in respiratory problems was demonstrated dramatically in a study comparing the Kikuyu and Maasai tribes. The Kikuyu, living mainly on cereals, had a death rate from bronchitis and pneumonia which was ten times higher than that of the meat-eating Maasai. A similar comparison carried out at a girls’ boarding-school found the same: researchers demonstrated that the incidence of colds among the girls was directly related to the amount of sugar each consumed. Their evidence showed that the girls who drank fizzy drinks and ate sweets and other refined carbohydrates suffered many more respiratory problems and colds than girls who did not. The advice given to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold was to cut out sugar and eat no bread or other products that contain either wheat or rye.

Part of this system are cells called neutrophils , a type of leucocyte or white blood cell, which circulate in our blood streams and mop up any bacteria or other foreign bodies they come across. This process is called phagocytosis . While phagocytosis is an energy requiring mechanism that needs an adequate supply of the blood sugar, glucose, too much glucose has the effect of reducing the neutrophils’ ability to ingest and kill off invading bacteria. The measure of how many organisms one leukocyte can eat in an hour is called the “leukocytic index” (LI). It is a simple measure: if a leukocyte eats 10 organisms in an hour, its leukocytic index is 10.  The neutrophils that we rely on to kill any invading bacteria and viruses form 60% – 70% of the white blood cells in our bodies. They are generally much more active than any other blood cell. It can be disastrous to our health, therefore, if their effectiveness is compromised in any way. But this is exactly what happens if we eat too much carbohydrate and too much sugar in particular.

By ‘sugar’ I do not mean just the white, granulated stuff we serve from a bowl on the table; this is called ‘sucrose’ but the term sugar applies to glucose, fructose (fruit sugar), maltose (grain sugar), honey (a mixture of glucose, fructose, sucrose and dextrin).

In a 1973 study, after an overnight fast and after their leucocytes had been tested for phagocytosis activity and their leukocytic index (LI) had been recorded, subjects were fed 100 grams of a specific carbohydrate (a sugar or starch). The table below shows that all forms of carbohydrate — starch as well as sugars — reduced the neutrophils’ effectiveness at destroying bacteria and other micro-organisms.

Fasting level of LI           Lowest point of LI Decline %            Time before returning to normal

Glucose                               16.2 9.6 40.5                                          More than 5 hours
Fructose                              15.5 8.5 45.1                                          More than 5 hours
Sucrose                                15.2 8.6 44.0                                         More than 5 hours
Honey                                  15.9 9.7 39.0                                         More than 5 hours
Orange juice                      16.6 9.6 42.1                                          More than 5 hours
Starch                                  15.7 13.6 13.4                                        More than 5 hours

Note that the worst sugar was fructose — the sugar found in fruit, although high-fructose corn syrup is worse.

This study was confirmed in 1976 by Ringsdorf, et al.  They tested the effect of sugar (sucrose) by giving their subjects 24 ounces of sugar sweetened Cola. In this test the leucocytic index of all their subjects was reduced by 50%. In other words, the ability of their disease-fighting blood cells was halved.  Diabetics should be particularly careful not to consume much carbohydrate-based food, particularly any that is sweetened, as they have been found to have impaired phagocytic activity when compared to normal subjects, and are thus at significantly greater risk.

And it’s not just the sugar in our diets.  The lack of fat also plays a role.  There is a substantial amount of evidence that relatively low cholesterol levels in apparently healthy individuals is associated with increased subsequent mortality from cancer. It is also associated with other, non-heart related deaths. A group at the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tested whether the effectiveness of their immune systems differed in individuals with high and low levels of blood cholesterol.  The low cholesterol group’s cholesterol averaged 3.9 mmol/L (151 mg/dL); the high cholesterol group averaged 6.8 mmol/L (261 mg/dL).  The immune systems of the men in the low cholesterol group were significantly less effective than those of the high cholesterol group. This finding was not surprising as several studies have shown that cholesterol is necessary for the proper functioning of blood cells macrophages and lymphocytes that form part of our immune systems. For this reason low blood cholesterol undoubtedly adversely affects our bodies’ ability to fight infection. This could well be another reason why infectious diseases are becoming more prevalent in our society.

Based on these studies, any person who eats largely carbohydrate-based meals, particularly those containing sugars, and snacks with small carbohydrate-based meals spread throughout the day — as the latest advice suggests we should — could lose up to half their immunity to disease for much of the waking day.

And by extension, I can say that anyone who eats carbohydrates should be very afraid of the swine flue and any other flu that lurks in the air.

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Posted on April 28, 2009 at 9:55 pm by Charles · Permalink
In: Diabetes, Diet, Disease, Immune System, Populations

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