eat well even when you're sick

Recently, a client who very seldom gets sick and who is typically quite vigilant about her nutrition told me she got a respiratory infection. This brief post describes what she learned from not sticking with her nutrition guidelines and is meant to be a caution for anyone who finds value in it.

Apparently, while the client was feeling quite under the weather, she simply stopped paying attention to her usual, healthful diet. One evening, after a day of less attentive eating — nothing actually junky — she noticed that she felt, in her words, “absolutely terrible.” She assumed that her health had taken a turn for the worse, until she reflected on how her “food day” had gone.

Throughout that day, she had eaten almost no protein and lots of starchy carbs. It was then that she remembered how insulin-triggering carbs affect inflammation: they trigger series 2 prostaglandins.

What Are Prostaglandins?

As outlined in a previous post, prostaglandins are short-lived, hormone-like chemicals. They”™re released by cells and travel through the interstitial fluid to neighboring target cells. Prostaglandins regulate many cellular functions and come in 3 types. All types are derived from foods (specific fatty acids), and depend on enzymes for their formation.

What Insulin Does

Insulin changes the enzymes that act on the fats we eat. When we eat high quantities of insulin-triggering foods (usually carbs) — or when we eat insulin-triggering carbs by themselves — the enzymes shift in the direction that brings on series 2 prostaglandin formation.

Type 2 prostaglandins promote pain and inflammation, while types 1 and 3 work in the opposite direction and can reduce both pain and inflammation.

We Can Fix Things With Food

Fortunately, the client was pro-active enough to go back to her usual diet of mostly vegetables, along with protein and moderate quantities of complex carbs and healthful fats. She started noticing that she felt better within several hours.

This advice could fit right in with the “No Days Off” message from several months ago. Mainly, I hope it serves as a helpful message for your students, if they ever get sick.

Joan Kent

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