I have done a few posts where I discussed how after I loaded up my diet with foods that were anti-viral and anti-bacterial, I stopped getting sick. In the post Health Goals – Last Year and Today, I went as far as to declare victory.
Stop Getting Sick from Colds A+ : My thesis of loading up on superfoods, especially those with antimicrobial, antiviral and antiparasitic properties has worked wonders. I NO LONGER GET COLDS. Despite being surrounded by sickness, my immune system fought off everything.
Even though I ended up getting a minor cold in September, I still believe that my immune system is much stronger now than ever before. However, I may have been wrong about the importance of loading up on superfoods. There may be another factor at play that is more responsible.
When I began eating a higher quality, greater quantity and diversity of veggies, I needed to make room for this food. So I reduced my carbohydrate intake. My health improved immediately, so I gave full credit to the superfoods. Now I am rethinking my conclusion. What if the removal of the carbohydrates played a greater role in improving my health than all those veggies?
The flip side to nutrient intake is nutrient absorption. What if the reduction of carbohydrates helped me absorb the vegetable nutrients better? Can I credit a lower carb diet with not getting sick more than the superfood intake? This was an idea I was exposed to in Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.
The vitamin-C molecule is similar in configuration to glucose and other sugars in the body. It is shuttled from the bloodstream into the cells by the same insulin-dependent transport system used by glucose. Glucose and vitamin C compete in this cellular-uptake process, like strangers trying to flag down the same taxicab simultaneously.
He goes deeper into the science to explain how insulin will win the battle against vitamin C in this uptake process. What does this mean? Insulin spiking carbohydrates interfere with vitamin C uptake. Still think orange juice and those sugar filled cold medicines are good for you?
What other nutrients could be affected by the effects of insulin? Good Calories, Bad Calories looked into the diseases of vitamin deficiency. Scurvy (vitamin C), beriberi (vitamin B1) and pellagra (vitamin B3) surfaced only after diets had their carbohydrate intake increased or when switched to a more refined carbohydrate. I always wondered why so many of our carbohydrate “food products” needed to be fortified with additional vitamins.
I believe it is still wise to eat a wide variety of nutrient rich vegetables, but it may be more important for your health to do so with fewer carbohydrates. Ditch that Vitamin Water and steam up some broccoli.