Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Toxic Sweetness of Halloween

We don't celebrate Halloween for reasons I will not go into in this post. But for everyone who does and considers their family to have a healthy or green lifestyle (whatever you want to call it), there is one thing you should certainly take into consideration. It is the simple fact that sugar suppresses the immune system.

So what does that mean for you and your kids? Nothing, if you don't participate in the consumerism driven holiday. If you do though, how do you plan to deal with you family's weakened immune system for weeks to come? Especially during flu season. Here is an excerpt from the Dr.Sears site about sugar:
The complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, grains, and fruits are good for you; the simple sugars found in sodas, candies, icings, and packaged treats can do harm, at least when eaten in excess. It's as simple as that. Here's why:

Excess sugar depresses immunity. Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body's immune responses. Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria. In contrast, ingesting a complex carbohydrate solution (starch) did not lower the ability of these white blood cells to engulf bacteria. The immune suppression was most noticeable two hours post-ingestion, but the effect was still evident five hours after ingestion. This research has practical implications, especially for teens and college students who tend to overdose on sodas containing caffeine and sugar while studying for exams or during periods of stress. Stress also suppresses immunity, so these sugar-users are setting themselves up to get sick at a time when they need to be well.

An overdose of sugar. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system.

This is without taking into consideration that most candy and bars are also made with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Just the fact that nearly half of commercial HFCS samples contain mercury is reason enough it should not be in your family's diet. As is, public schools are prime places to catch a virus such as the flu. Loading public school children with sugar doesn't just aggravate the problem, it makes it explode exponentially.

This is not to say you should avoid sugar all together and throw away your kids' candy (although that would not hurt). In my honest opinion though, no matter how you look at it, the amount of sugar and questionable ingredients children consume on Halloween is by no means trivial. It will suppress the immune system and there will be consequences. What do you think about it? I would love to see your comments!


  1. I knew sugar was bad, but wasn't sure how to explain why in plain terms to grandmas (and my husband, who stil likes soda). Your article explains it plainly and makes me really want to throw all the candy away from Halloween! It gives me another reason to reasess the level of sugar tolerance in my family ... Thanks!

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