Happy Halloween!

Soon Trick or Treaters will be knocking on your doors…and while the jumbo bowl of candy may be ready to go, how much of it will really make it into the hands of of those cute little costumed kiddos?  Whether its the kids’ trick or treating bounty, or the left over candy bowl, most of us have some kind of candy hoard left over after Halloween is over.  Unfortunately, the left over candy that seems to perpetually call your name, keeps the characteristic sugar binge that is Halloween going on for days or even weeks after the holiday has past.

“What’s the big deal!?!”, you ask, “It’s Halloween, and it’s only once per year!”  You may dress up, scare your friends, and hand out candy to the neighborhood kiddies once per year, but for as long as those mini Snickers bars, M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are making their way from the bowl to your mouth, you may be scaring the heck out of your body!  Have you ever noticed during the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving almost everyone you know gets a cold.

Sugar has not always been the ubiquitous substance it is today.  For the majority of human existence, sugar has been a very expensive and rare luxury found only in fruit when it was in season.  With the advent of travel and industry sugar became more readily available, but it could only be afforded by the wealthiest of individuals.  That is until the discovery of the Caribbean Islands and the start of the Industrial Revolution when sugar became cheap and available to the masses.

Since its debut into the daily diet, sugar has been linked to obvious problems like obesity and tooth decay, serious health conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and seemingly unrelated conditions like increased mood swings and a depressed immune system.

White blood cells ingesting harmful bacteria.

Wait, a depressed immune system?  Yup, you heard right.  A molecule of sugar looks a lot like a molecule of Vitamin C to the cells of your immune system.  So much so that they actually use the same “doorway” to enter the cell and when sugar is present it gets priority in entering the cell over Vitamin C.  So, you end up with immune cells full of sugar instead of the Vitamin C necessary to fight and destroy foreign bacteria and virus invaders.  The result?  You – 0: colds & the flu – a fighting chance.  That’s why so many kids end up with a cold soon after Halloween.  It wasn’t plethora of people he/she came into contact with on Halloween night.  It was the excess sugar that slowed his/her immune system to a crawl and let those bugs take hold.

OK, so now what?  Try these tips to reduce the siren call of sugar in the post-Halloween days – this goes for the kiddos, too:

  1. Choose a few of your favorite candies and enjoy them on Halloween night but get rid of the rest.  And, by this I mean throw it away.
  2. Allow your kids to take advantage of a local candy “buy back” program.  These are usually run by your local dentist’s office.  To check for a local participant by click the link above.
  3. If you simply can’t stand to throw all of it away, choose only your favorites and place them in the freezer.  Take out one at a time and enjoy sugar the way it was meant to be enjoyed….IN MODERATION!

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