Orange Juice for the Cold or Flu- Think Again!
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
When I was growing up as a kid, the age-old adage was to grab a glass of orange juice at the first sign of a cold or flu. Although the vitamin C that is found in orange juice is actually good at knocking out a cold, the high sugar content that comes along with it can actually prolong the illness. You read that right, drinking orange juice can actually make your cold or flu last longer. Let me explain. When you catch a virus or a bacterial infection, your body's immune system revs up in order to fight it off. Your body's first defense is to release cells called phagocytes. The phagocytes are able to identify these viruses and bacteria and they then destroy them, thus preventing them from spreading or multiplying throughout the body. The phagocytes require a large amount of vitamin C (up to 50 times what is normally requires) in order to do their job properly. Due to its high vitamin C content, this is why orange juice has always been recommended at the first sign of a cold or flu.
The real problem lies in the high sugar content that is also found in orange juice. When you drink orange juice, your body's glucose/ sugar levels become elevated. Orange juice is very low in fiber and other key nutrients that helps to slow down the absorption of glucose- causing a large spike. The chemical structure of glucose and vitamin C are very similar to one another and the body has a hard time distinguishing which one to use in order to help the phagocytes do their job properly. The majority of the time, the body will use the glucose before it uses the vitamin C. This will lower the number of phagocytes and will actually prolong the duration of the cold/flu. Your immune system is now less able to fight off viruses and infection, thus allowing it to spread throughout the body.
It is not just orange juice that does this, but any form of sugar that gets turned into glucose in the body. This includes- white/brown sugar, fruit juice, syrup, honey and artificial sweeteners, It is always recommended that you refrain from as much sugar as possible when you are battling a cold or a flu. This allows the body's immune system to function optimally and will decrease the duration of the illness. Studies shown that glucose levels over 120 can decrease the function of the immune system by up to 75%. Instead of using orange juice, try these 8 foods that are high in vitamin C but low in sugar levels.
Broccoli – 1 cup= 81 mg of vitamin C.
Raspberries – 1 cup= 32 mg of vitamin C.
Cabbage – 1 cup= 32 mg of vitamin C.
Red Bell Pepper – 1 cup= 190 mg of vitamin C.
Kale – 1 cup= 81mg of vitamin C.
Cauliflower – 1 cup=51 mg of vitamin C.
Parsley – 1 cup= 79 mg of vitamin C.
Tomatoes – 1 cup= 24 mg of vitamin C