Tomas Heed

Writer • Musician • Entrepreneur

Autumn, candy, cold and sciatic nerve pain

I have a theory. Let me start with the facts:

  1. Every year the summer ends abruptly in October.
  2. When summer ends, the days get shorter.
  3. When the days get shorter it gets dark earlier.
  4. When it gets dark earlier I become depressed.
  5. When I get depressed, I eat more candy.

So far, there’s nothing strange in my reasoning, but here are a couple of more facts.

  1. Every autumn I get a cold  which lasts for a long time.
  2. Every autumn I get a sciatica nerve pain caused by my herniated disk.

Now for my theory: Could my cold and my sciatica pain be caused by my increased sugar intake in the fall?

Every year has the same old story. The days are getting shorter as we get into October and I become more and more cranky every day. To compensate for the lack of joy in the short days I pass the supermarket on my way home to pick up a small bag of candy. Candy is so cheap these days, and when you are grown up you can afford all the candy you want and you have your own permission to indulge in it even though it’s not Saturday.

And if you buy 100 grams of chocolate the first day, maybe you will buy 150 grams the next day and look, the price is reduced on the Skittle’s and now it’s Halloween and the “pick’n’mix”-candy is only 10 cents per ounce. TEN CENTS PER OUNCE! I have to buy a big bag! I lose money if I don’t buy another bag and ooops… I ate it all. I feel a bit sick now, but tomorrow I’ll buy more.


Yes, I’m a first-class sweet tooth. The other day my colleague told me : “I don’t know anyone with sugar cravings such as yours” – and I think he’s right. Neither do I.

What about the cold, then? Every year I get a cold by autumn, and it usually lasts for a long time, though it never really breaks out. I just walk around with a running nose and feel very professional as the snot tissues accumulate on my desk at my job. My colleagues are looking at me with fear in their eyes. “Why won’t the idiot stay at home when he is ill?”, I read in their eyes, but I can’t stay home all fall? (Or maybe I can? Maybe it’s rest that I need to get rid of my running nose? If this theory fails, rest may be my next experiment.)

I also have a herniated disc that was diagnosed during the Christmas holidays in 2013. A few days before Christmas in 2013, I was at my chiropractor’s to try to cure my backpains, and the following conversation took place.

The chiropractor: “Well, Tomas, now there’s nothing more I can do for you.”
Me: “But … I’m still in pain! What should I do? What’s next? MRI?”
The chiropractor: “Yes, I think so. I mean, it may not be bone cancer …”
Me: “Uuuuuh ….”

I went home and booked an appointment for MRI and through my private health insurance i got an apppointment pretty soon. I made a conscious choice not to google bone cancer, but the night before the MRI I could not stop myself. When I woke up the following morning I showed all the symptoms that I had read about.

Fortunately it was just a herniated disc, which was a relief given the circumstances.


What can be said about all this? I have a short workout program that I follow every weekday morning to keep the core muscles in shape to avoid problems with my back and that usually keeps the pain at bay, but every fall my lower back starts complaining. And every fall, I have a cold, and every time I sneeze I feel it in my back.

That was terribly long preamble. Now to the point of my post.

If you google the immune system you are informed that it is the white blood cells that comes to the rescue when bacteria or viruses enter your body. There are different types of white blood cells and these can be categorized as innate defense or adaptive defense. There is more about this on Wikipedia, for example, but if I was to summarize it all, the innate defense is the first instance that takes care of all the bacteria and viruses that enter the body. They quickly check the records that came with the gene pool if they can find a solution on how to stop the attack. If they cannot identify the attacker, they send a signal to the special forces – the adaptive immune system – that makes a crime scene investigation to determine how to counter the attack. This investigation may take up to one week – that is the period of time when you want to stay in bed, feeling sorry for yourself – but once they are ready, they are very good at documenting what they’ve come up with. The next time the virus enters the body, the adaptive immune system scans their records and quickly find the right remedy.

And where does sugar come into the picture? Well, according to a study conducted at Loma Linda University in 1973, sugar lowers the white blood cell activity by 40%. This means that the adaptive immune system can’t do its job efficiently. They are 40% less productive, and they need nearly 12 days to find a cure where it should only take them a week. But my nose is running for more than 12 days…

Anyway, my hypothesis is that my increased sugar intake in the fall makes my nose runny. Moreover, in some mysterious way it makes my back hurt.

How should I prove this hypothesis? Ideally, I’d like to do a double-blind study where someone gives me candy or something else that I think is candy, and I eat it, and we’ll notice from day to day if the cold is still there. I obviously can’t do that since there’s only one of me. Even if I could find a placebo-candy that tastes just as real sweets, I still wouldn’t be able to make the study statistically significant.


I know that my cold will last for a long time in the autumn so I should be able to say that if I do nothing, it will last until Christmas. It’s true! Last year, I had a cold from October to February. So, this is my plan:

  • When I have a cold I will not eat sugar.
  • When I don’t have a cold I will eat sugar.

If my hypothesis is correct I will have a cold every second week.

I will come back to this study later, and I do hope that I won’t be having a cold during Christmas.


  1. Turknuttan

    2016-11-17 at 08:47

    För det första, du har din like här i sockerintagsmissbrukare. Så det finns en till som du känner.
    För det andra, jag har hållit upp i tre månader (fast nu har jag börjat igen) och kan konstatera att man kunde efter några veckor sluta med både huvudvärkstabletter och annat. Men du behöver längre uppehåll än en vecka för att det ska ge resultat.
    Utmaning – ska vi ta en sockerfri månad ihop för att utvärdera sedan? Enda undantaget är att jag måste ha en fredagssemla varje vecka med start imorgon.

  2. Topp!
    Start nu då? Fram till den 17 december. Så har vi utrymme för knäck runt jul 🙂
    Om vi klarar det och känner oss friska och sunda kanske vi ska belöna oss med att gå ut och äta efteråt?

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