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All, CR appears to reduce our susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. colds and flu) - we've known this for quite some time based on personal anecdotes, backed up by our recent poll on the topic, and confirmed a study of anorexics by Luigi Fontana discussed in this post. But the immunity story for CR practitioners may not be quite so cut and dried. As discussed in this post, CR may make it harder for us to fight off infections once we do get sick. Plus, you've got to die of something (at least for the foreseeable future :-) ), and flu/pneumonia are the 3rd leading killer of centenarians. So it was heartening to see today's video by Dr. Greger (embedded below) which reports on the strong evidence that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, which virtually all of us do, helps to boost the immune system. Perhaps the most interesting sound-bite from the video comes from this study , which found that obesity, low physical activity, and low fruit/vegetable consumption were all associated with higher rates of hospitalizations for acute upper respiratory infections. But low fruits/veggies intake edged out the other two as the most predictive lifestyle factor for increased URI risk. So eat your fruits and veggies! --Dean -----------  Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2013 Sep;7(5):718-28. doi: 10.1111/irv.12019. Epub 2012 Nov 8. Relationship between community prevalence of obesity and associated behavioral factors and community rates of influenza-related hospitalizations in the United States. Charland KM(1), Buckeridge DL, Hoen AG, Berry JG, Elixhauser A, Melton F, Brownstein JS. Author information: (1)Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, USA. email@example.com BACKGROUND: Findings from studies examining the association between obesity and acute respiratory infection are inconsistent. Few studies have assessed the relationship between obesity-related behavioral factors, such as diet and exercise, and risk of acute respiratory infection. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether community prevalence of obesity, low fruit/vegetable consumption, and physical inactivity are associated with influenza-related hospitalization rates. METHODS: Using data from 274 US counties, from 2002 to 2008, we regressed county influenza-related hospitalization rates on county prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30), low fruit/vegetable consumption (<5 servings/day), and physical inactivity (<30 minutes/month recreational exercise), while adjusting for community-level confounders such as insurance coverage and the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 population. RESULTS: A 5% increase in obesity prevalence was associated with a 12% increase in influenza-related hospitalization rates [adjusted rate ratio (ARR) 1.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.07, 1.17]. Similarly, a 5% increase in the prevalence of low fruit/vegetable consumption and physical inactivity was associated with an increase of 12% (ARR 1.12, 95% CI 1.08, 1.17) and 11% (ARR 1.11, 95% CI 1.07, 1.16), respectively. When all three variables were included in the same model, a 5% increase in prevalence of obesity, low fruit/vegetable consumption, and physical inactivity was associated with 6%, 8%, and 7% increases in influenza-related hospitalization rates, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Communities with a greater prevalence of obesity were more likely to have high influenza-related hospitalization rates. Similarly, less physically active populations, with lower fruit/vegetable consumption, tended to have higher influenza-related hospitalization rates, even after accounting for obesity. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. PMID: 23136926 Dr. Greger references on fruits/veggies & immunity B Watzi, A Bub, K Briviba, G Rechkemmer. Supplementation of a low-carotenoid diet with tomato or carrot juice modulates immune functions in healthy men. Ann Nutr Metab. 2003;47(6):255-61. L Li, M M Werler. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of upper respiratory tract infection in pregnant women. Public Health Nutr. 2010 Feb;13(2):276-82. NA. The blood film in meningococcal disease. Med J Aust. 1983 May 28;1(11):502. H M Averill, J E Averill. The effect of daily apple consumption on dental caries experience, oral hygiene status and upper respiratory infections. N Y State Dent J. 1968 Aug-Sep;34(7):403-9. K M Charland, D L Buckeridge, A G Hoen, J G Berry, A Elixhauser, F Melton, J S Brownstein. Relationship between community prevalence of obesity and associated behavioral factors and community rates of influenza-related hospitalizations in the United States. Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2013 Sep;7(5):718-28. B Watzi, A Bub, B R Brandstetter, G Rechkemmer. Modulation of human T-lymphocyte functions by the consumption of carotenoid-rich vegetables. Br J Nutr. 1999 Nov;82(5):383-9. N Acs, F Banhidy, E Horvath-Puho, A E Czeizel. Population-based case-control study of the common cold during pregnancy and congenital abnormalities. Eur J Epidemiol. 2006;21(1):65-75. K Kurppa, P C Holmberg, E Kuosma, T Aro, L Saxen. Anencephaly and maternal common cold. Teratology. 1991 Jul;44(1):51-5. J Zhang, W W Cai. Association of the common cold in the first trimester of pregnancy with birth defects. Pediatrics. 1993 Oct;92(4):559-63. M Veldhoen, V Bruchlacher-Waldert. Dietary influences on intestinal immunity. Nat Rev Immunol. 2012 Oct;12(10):696-708. A Gibson, J D Edgar, C E Neville, S E Gilchrist, M C McKinley, C C Patterson, I S Young, J V Woodside. Effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on immune function in older people: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Dec;96(6):1429-36.
Hey Everybody, The CR Cold & Flu survey has been active for about a week, and we got 14 responses, with no more coming in lately, so I figured I'd summarize the results. I've screen captured the entire results as an image below so you can see the details, but here are the highlights: We got half of our respondents from the CR Forums, and half from the Facebook CRS group. We got a pretty good split of genders (9 male / 5 female) A pretty wide distribution of ages and time practicing CR, with quite a few veterans. A good number of low-BMI, apparently serious CR practitioners, so it was a pretty good sample. 80% of people reported getting a single cold / flu or less per year on average. This seems a lot lower than the general population. Nearly 80% say they get fewer colds / flu now than they did before starting CR. 54% say they get colds / flu less frequently than others in their household. 85% said they have low or low-normal white blood cell counts. 57% percent never get the flu shot. Overall, I think this confirms our hypothesis - that CR folks have a less inflammable body (reflected in low WBC count), but if anything possess a more competent immune system, as reflected in contracting fewer colds and flu than before they started CR, than others in their household, and than is average in the general population. --Dean