Feeling under the weather, whether you’re suffering from the common cold, the flu or something worse, is no fun for anyone. It can make you feel miserable and unable to perform your normal activities, including work. Feeling sick while dieting can also make you lose motivation to stick to your regime, causing you to ditch your diet during the duration of your illness. Some people may feel guilty for ditching their diets, but is it really such a bad idea?
If you’re suffering from a simple cold and aren’t running a fever, exercise and dieting can actually be very helpful to your body. If you’re increasing your consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, this is wonderful, as you’ll be flooding your body with much needed antioxidants which can help to fight off the free radicals that lower the body’s immunity, making it more susceptible to illness. Exercise can help cold symptoms immensely by helping to expel mucus from the body.
If you’re suffering from something worse than a cold, such as the flu, pneumonia or worse, dieting may not be such a good idea, and in fact could be quite the opposite. Researchers have found that dieting during flu season can possibly impair the body’s defenses to fight off the flu and similar illnesses. Researchers at Michigan State University discovered that whenever a person restricts their calorie intake, which of course occurs during dieting, the body’s natural killer cells which fight off illnesses can’t be activated. This leads to not only a weakened immune system, but also causes a person to take a longer period of time to recover. Professor Elizabeth Gardner, the lead researcher at Michigan State University, advices that people can diet for eight months out of the year, but during flu season when the body needs its defenses to be at optimal levels, people should not follow low calorie diets. Researchers also discovered that even supplementing with vitamins and minerals while dieting during flu season didn’t help much to boost the immune system.
Just because it may not be a good idea to undergo strict dieting during flu season (or anytime your body may be fighting off an illness), doesn’t mean that you should overeat and gain weight. By eating moderately and healthfully and making extra effort to avoid junk food and high-calorie carbs and fats, you might be able to still lose a couple pounds without sacrificing your health. Furthermore, if you’re able to increase your level of physical activity, you may even be able to lose more.
Mayo Clinic Exercise & Illness Page – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01097
World Health News – Dieting During Flu Season – http://www.worldhealth.net/news/dieting_during_the_flu_season_a_no-no/