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To think a healthy diet does not ward off illness?

(34 Posts)
LoveRedShoes Fri 17-Dec-10 22:30:25

Reading about all of this swine flu, having two otherwise healthy DCs on their second round of heavy colds, having cold myself after a sickness bug.....is this healthy diet thing a big con?
I know it is fairly impossible to know, but I seem to put so much work into providing a very healthy diet for my kids: lots of colourful fruit and veg, exercise, home cooked food, supplements now and again, clean and happy living. Good, organic, varied food is, lets face it, quite expensive. Homecooking every meal from scratch is time consuming (and I love cooking!).
My DS, bless his heart, after a coughing fit and with his yicky runny nose, asked me in his sad little boy voice, 'mummy, you said if I ate my boccoli and blueberries I would be healthy and not poorly. I will not never ever eat boccoli again mummy. It doesn't work.'
sad
I know I can't stop them from getting bugs, but can't help wondering what the difference would be if I just let them eat much easier and junkier food. Am I really supposed to believe that I can hold back flu and other viruses with a good diet, when they will be in direct contact with other children at school?
Quavers for breakfast then????

Tryharder Fri 17-Dec-10 22:39:20

YANBU. My DCs eat very well and seem to pick up a lot of minor illnesses. My friend's DCs never - and I mean NEVER - eat vegetables and hardly any fruit and they are never ill.

My DS1 benefitted from a wheat and dairy free diet about 2 years ago when his immune system was particularly weak.

PressureDrop Fri 17-Dec-10 22:42:08

It's not magic, but it's sensible to feed your kids well. If your children were eating shit every day, they'd be setting themselves up for a lifetime of being overweight, probably having diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease etc in later life, and a very good chance that they would die younger. But no, eating broccolli won't stop them getting colds. Did you seriously think it would, though?

RockinRobinBird Fri 17-Dec-10 22:43:54

Don't know really. DH eats pretty well, I eat shite. We both had a chest infection recently. He was over it in 4 days, I am into my 4th week and still not better. Not much of a sample I grant you but...

FrostyAndSlippery Fri 17-Dec-10 22:45:10

It is largely down to luck IMO.

Same with BFing, DS had much more BF than DD did and yet he's got nasty eczema and a dodgy chest.

But it's not going to stop me BFing (still going at 16m) and trying to eat healthily. it's the long term stuff that matters - I don't want to end up with diabetes etc.

thefentiger Fri 17-Dec-10 22:53:59

I think most Dcs get all manner of colds/coughs/viruses up until about age 8 or so .
Its vile at the time but it leads ultimately to a healty immune system.

Mine are teenagers now and DD has had one nasty bug this year. DS has had nothing- no colds or bugs at all.
I eat healthily and get about one cold a year-I have OCD and it is mostly around handwashing .I think it does have its benefitsgrin

Blackletterday Fri 17-Dec-10 23:23:08

I think YANBU, I read something in a book once (may have been In The Woods, a thriller) that struck a chord. Something about spirituality being on the decline, so people had converted to health evangelism. Smoking/eating crap is now no longer just ill advised, it's now a moral failing, with the reverse being true. Just struck me as being true.

People imbue a healthy lifestyle with benefits it just doesn't offer. Fair enough statistically you are less likely to get cancer/drop dead of a heart attack/get diabetes etc. That doesn't mean you will live a charmed illness free existence.

Bollocks to it I say, none of my family are long lived, I'll enjoy myself while I can. Who the fuck wants to be 97 anyway.

Morloth Fri 17-Dec-10 23:28:13

When I am eating well and exercising a lot I tend to get sick less often and then when I do get sick fight it off relatively quickly.

We have all had various lurgies lately and I think the fact that we have been eating out a lot and grabbing stuff on the run is a contributing factor. I am feeling very rundown and was saying to DH last night that I need to get it all back in hand now that we are settled so we can all bounce back.

It isn't the be all and end all, but I do feel better when I live well.

I have a friend who is a macrobiotic vegan and while her life looks very stressful to me I have to admit it seems to work. She, her husband and their two kids are always in extreme good health. Could be luck could be that she just gets it exactly right. She also looks a good 15 years younger than her actual age.

cupcakebakerer Fri 17-Dec-10 23:52:53

I think that it's mostly down to genes. My dad is OBSESSIVE over a healthy diet and he developed prostate cancer (thankfully on the mend). My husband's dad on the other hand lives off biscuits, tea and toast and is never, ever ill. I think somewhere in-between is best. Aim for five a day and a treat now and again.

Blackletterday Fri 17-Dec-10 23:53:40

I can't actually remember the last time I had a cold, I have never had the flu (ok thats me dead from swine flu, I can never be smug about anything grin) <touch wood>. I have a less than healthy lifestyle.

I had a bad chest after having ds1, but I think that might have been due to my manky mouldy damp flat. I went from 3 different inhalers to nothing when we moved.

Cleofartra Sat 18-Dec-10 00:01:45

Had a friend who suffered from heart failure at 39. Was devastated and asked the cardiologist 'why me?' given that she doesn't smoke, drink, she eats healthily and exercises regularly. He told her that had she not had such a healthy lifestyle she probably would have died from her illness.

In other words, living well won't keep you healthy, but you will be better off than you would have been eating crap and not exercising.

"Bollocks to it I say, none of my family are long lived, I'll enjoy myself while I can"

But if you DO live past 70 wouldn't you rather do it in reasonable health than suffering the affects of stroke/diabetes/high blood pressure? There's a reason why you don't see a lot of fat smokers in their 80's. That's because very few make it that far, and if they do they're generally stuck indoors, ill. My mum is 76 and she knows loads of robust old ladies in their 80's who still ride bikes, do voluntary work and live independently. The one thing all these women have in common is that they're very active and that none of them are fat.

cupcakebakerer Sat 18-Dec-10 00:09:52

Yes Cleo but I think the sentiment is that it's not helpful to be obsessive over it - home cooking every meal with organic veg and breaking into a cold sweat if you don't have your five a day. Obviously living off crap, smoking and not exercising is going to shorten your life expectancy.

Morloth Sat 18-Dec-10 00:14:14

And if it doesn't actually shorten your life expectancy you have to factor in all the 'lost' time you spent worrying about it when you could have been off having fun instead.

I do the best I can but I am not going to waste any of my time on worrying about it.

We live well 80% of the time, the other 20% is chips and wine and coffee and even the very rare smoke. I am happy, deep down content and relaxed about life the universe and everything and why not?

WhatsWrongWithYou Sat 18-Dec-10 00:35:46

'Home cooking every meal' is obsessive? I thought it was normal - kind of why wouldn't you if you are willing to devote the time and money to it (assuming both are available)?

I have to say I've given up on the organic veg as I think it's a bit of a con, but always try to buy free range/organic meat, from an animal welfare pov if nothing else.

Cooking from scratch, to me, is just what I do - don't even think about it. We do occasionally veer towards chippie chips/ a takeaway curry, but I find I put on 2 pounds every time I have a takeaway so I'd rather avoid, tbh.

As regards the OP: I did have what i would consider an 'obsessively healthy' diet for a couple of years (to cure IBS), and I have to say I hardly ever got sick - to the point that other mums would comment on it.

Now that I'm fully back on the wheat, dairy, sugar, hit-and-miss veg portions, I do seem to succumb more than before.

But I've never told my kids they won't be sick if they eat their veg - that's just a fib.

MummieHunnie Sat 18-Dec-10 00:39:51

I heard about this woman who had natural killer cells, she was never ill, she could never remember being ill in her life, she suffered so many miscarriages as her body was so good at killing, so as far as I am concerned it is genetic! I had no problems holding on to a pregnancy and although I have been lucky lately, I normally get quite ill this time of year as do my dc!Genetics UANBU

MummieHunnie Sat 18-Dec-10 00:41:11

I just wanted to add that the lady who had the miscarriages was medically told the reason for the miscarriages and her never being ill was down to her high level of natural killer cells x

BitOfFun Sat 18-Dec-10 00:43:54

May I give you Gillian McKeith V Nigella Lawson?

Same age.

perfectstorm Sat 18-Dec-10 01:31:22

I think bugs are good for them in moderation - builds the immune system - though shitty at the time for all concerned.

I think a healthy diet is more about long term than short term bugs, though. And Gillian McKeith IMO is not healthy - way too faddy to have a balanced diet. Nigella may eat too much saturated fat, but she eats a very varied diet of top notch ingredients and plenty of fresh fruit and veg, too. It's probably healthier than McKeith's, quite frankly. Plus the joy in eating is, I think, healthy in itself - isn't that the basis of the French Paradox?

masochismTangoer Sat 18-Dec-10 09:41:19

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12002299
"Around 33,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone in the UK followed dietary guidelines, research suggests.

Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day has the biggest effect, say experts at Oxford University.

...

The UK daily guidelines are to eat five portions of fruit and veg, no more than 6g of salt, and keep saturated fat to 10% of total energy intake.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was based on a computer model linking food consumption with mortality from heart disease, stroke and cancer."

I often see the figure of 40 % of cancers are caused by poor diets - but do not know where it comes from. The other 60% would be mix of genetic and environmental factors.

Colds and flu are better prevented by frequent hand washing and luck. Think diet is a more long term benefit.

masochismTangoer Sat 18-Dec-10 09:44:21

Good, organic, varied food is, lets face it, quite expensive

I think there is limited evidence that organic is more beneficial - though we have at times bought it because it was much fresher than the supermarket fair we could access at the time and freshness it supposed to increase the vitamin content of the food.

Perhaps you can save money by not buying organic if money is an issue.

cupcakebakerer Sat 18-Dec-10 12:00:58

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and -families/health-news/simply-eating-your-five-a-da y-will-unotu-protect-you-against-cancer-1937600.ht ml

QuintMissesChristmasesPast Sat 18-Dec-10 12:03:00

Are they dressed warm enough?

NorthernLurker Sat 18-Dec-10 12:09:14

OP - clearly you are doing your best for your children's welfare but you aren't all powerful - you CANNOT prevent viruses and bacteria gaining a foothold sometimes. Your children's good diet will help them recover from bugs but nothing and nobody will stop kids - or adults - geting ill. Btw I think your ds is ace - great sense of logic there!

TrillianAstra Sat 18-Dec-10 12:19:55

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Healthy diet = healthy immune system = better able to fight infections. That doesn't mean that an individual with a healthy diet will never get ill, nor does it mean that someone with a crap diet might not seem to get ill less frequently than you.

TrillianAstra Sat 18-Dec-10 12:23:45

By which I mean that no amount of "my graddad" stories add in any way to our knowledge of the effect of diet on long term health.

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