Your best shot against dengue is no sugar

By Penelope A. Domogo, MD

Yes, the first and easiest thing you can do this dengue season is remove sugar from your home. I mean refined sugar- white, brown or powdered- and all items that have hidden sugar in it. Come to think of it, people have been living in this world for centuries without this chemical called “sugar”. Mass production of refined sugar is a relatively recent development in human history as a product of industrialization. In the local scene, we have “inti” ever since we can remember but this is raw sugar, not refined. So there you are, we can live without sugar and be much healthier and happier without it.
What’s wrong with sugar? Well, it is a favorite food of germs also. It is not only people who like sugar. This is why when we want to grow bacteria or fungus in the laboratory, we make a mixture of agar and sugar and viola, these tiny creatures will grow, not only ten or twenty, but colonies of bacteria! Bacteria are self-reproducing. I mean, they don’t wait for a mate to produce offspring. Each one divides into two and so on so their growth could be exponential given the right environment. In the case of dengue and other infections, if our blood is full of sugar, these germs will flourish and soon would overpower your immune system and make you sick. They could multiply so fast that this can happen in 3 days. I mean from the time the mosquito bites you to the time you develop fever.
Another thing to worry about sugar is that it suppresses your immune system. The late Dr. Agatha Thrash (M.D.) of the Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama, explained how sugar affects the immune system. “Six teaspoons of sugar (the amount of sugar in a single candy bar) reduces the ability of these white blood cells to destroy unfriendly bacteria by 25%; twelve teaspoons (the amount of sugar in a single can of soda pop or softdrink) reduces the ability of these white blood cells to destroy unfriendly bacteria by 60%; and twenty-four teaspoons (just half the average daily intake of refined sugar of Americans) reduces the ability of these white blood cells to destroy unfriendly bacteria by 92%.”
In the local scene, we did a cursory study of patients who got affected by dengue in one of the barangays in Mountain Province and all of them were eating a lot of sweets- either from their coffee or from milk, chocolate drinks, bread, candies, junk food and all highly-processed food. We have frequently discussed in past issues that sugar makes your blood sticky – this should be easily understood. Sugar is sticky and it makes water thicker or syrupy, just like what it can do to your blood. Imagine a syrupy water flowing in the river – I bet anybody will have a hard time swimming in that river compared to a river that has clean water. This holds true to the white blood cells and other defense forces in our bloodstream – they would have a hard time swimming in syrupy blood to catch those germs.
Sugar is not only what you add to your oatmeal or champorado. It is loaded in soft drinks, so-called “juices”, chocolate drinks. Candies are almost pure sugar, even if it is mint-flavored. It is present in those 3-in-1 coffees and teas. It is there in ice cream, cakes, ice candy, breads, cookies, ketchup, canned goods, junk food. I have a hard time looking for a packaged food without added sugar. So watch out for those hidden sugars. Watch out, too, for too much fruit sugar. Our tropical fruits – pineapple, mangoes, papaya, banana, etc. – are so rich in fructose which is considered a simple sugar. Simple sugars are not good compared to complex sugars like those found in camote and other root crops and whole cereal grains like rice. You can get too much sugar if you take the fruits as juice. It is so easy to drink 2 mangoes as juice compared to eating it as is. It is easier to control intake if you eat fruits in their natural state.
The safest and easiest thing to do to prevent disease and build strength is to eat foods in their most natural state – that is, organic, in season, with the least processing. Meaning, for example, eat camote boiled or baked as is, not adding sugar or milk. You can have fried camote but no added sugar.
Muscovado is a healthier option to white or brown sugar because the fiber and vitamins and minerals are still there. But still it is easy to be addicted to the sweet taste and it is still sugar. Honey also is sugar. Don’t be dismayed if you find food without added sugar as bland – this is because your taste buds have been numbed by sugar. Just put in your mind that you are eating to keep your immune system strong so you will prevent diseases. As you continue to eat well, your taste buds will be revived and you will be able to taste the sweetness of plain boiled pechay or beans and camote. Then you will also discover that such natural goodness from Mother Earth gives you so much good energy and good vibes and you will not crave anymore for supersweets.
If ever you get dengue, our Omnipotent Creator has already provided the remedy. Remember dengue fever is caused by a virus and as such, there is no medicine to kill viruses. We thank our Creator, however, because our own immune system can kill these viruses. For those who have a weakened immune system, their platelet count could plunge to dangerously-low levels that they can bleed to death. Take heart, there is tawa-tawa or boto-botonis (or pongpongo in Bontoc), camote leaves and papaya leaves. Just boil them and drink the tea. For camote leaves, you can eat the leaves as well. No problem, it is a vegetable. Papaya leaves is, I think, the latest discovery. One thing in common with these three plants is the “lena” or sap. Of course, that’s my opinion. Whatever is the secret ingredient why these plants increase platelet count, it works and we have accounts of patients getting better after drinking any or all of these. So pass the word around.**
“Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

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