Who doesn’t love a bit of sugar? Whether it’s to sweeten your coffee, in your ice cream, or baked into a cake, sugar is just a delicious part of life that can’t seem to stay away from.
But did you know that it’s HORRIBLE for your health? You’d be amazed by how much of an impact sugar can have on your body, particularly your immune system. Read on to find out what is the connection between sugar and immune system and just how bad sugar can be for you…
SUGAR’S IMPACT ON YOUR BODY
Sugar can cause a number of significant health risks, such as:
- Resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes
- Inflammation in the body, which can lead to serious health problems
- Weight gain and obesity
- Cancer, as the sugar fertilizes carcinogenic cells
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- A decrease in HDL cholesterol, as well as an increase in LDL cholesterol
- Reduced absorption and processing of proteins and lipids
Basically, sugar is the villain you should avoid like the plague!
SUGAR AND IMMUNE SYSTEM
In order to understand how does sugar affect your immune system you need to understand a bit more about the immune system itself.
First of all, the immune system isn’t a single organ, but it’s composed of millions of tiny cells and organisms that help to protect your body. It’s a HUGE system that spans your entire body.
When your body is invaded by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other pathogens, your body responds by producing a special cell called a phagocyte. Phagocytes are white blood cells that basically envelop the bacteria causing the infection, stopping it from spreading and effectively killing it. These phagocytes absorb and destroy everything that could cause harm, or at least neutralize them long enough for your body to flush them from your system.
Vitamin C is one of the nutrients that your immune system needs in order to function properly, which is why so many people tell you to drink orange juice when you have a cold. White blood cells need about 50 times the amount of Vitamin C they normally would just to be able to get rid of the viruses and bacteria.
Your body is searching for Vitamin C, but unfortunately it doesn’t always find it. Sugar is broken down into glucose, and this glucose is oddly similar in its chemical structure to Vitamin C. This means that when your body tries to use the Vitamin C, it often grabs the glucose instead of the vitamin.
Instead of being able to kill off the bacteria or virus, your body’s immune system’s ability to fight is DECREASED. It is LESS able to fight the infections, thus the infections spread.
It’s estimated that a blood sugar level of 120 reduces your immune system by up to 75%!
Worse still, it takes the body a LONG time just to get rid of the sugar in the immune system. Your body usually absorbs the glucose into your muscles within a few hours, but it takes longer to purge the glucose from the phagocytes. For as long as 4 to 6 hours after eating sugar, your immune system will still be recovering. Sugar and the immune system are enemies.
But what kinds of sugar will do this? Basically, any simple sugar will do!
Simple sugar means sugar that contains no fiber. This includes:
- White and brown sugar
- Honey (raw and processed)
- Cane sugar
- Cane sugar
- Many artificial sugars
- Fruit Drinks
- Natural fruit juices (sans fiber)
“Fruit juice?” you may ask. “But I thought I was supposed to drink orange juice to fight my cold?”
Yes, orange juice is rich in Vitamin C, so it can provide you with the vitamins you need to fight off a flu or cold. However, most fruit juices are VERY low in fiber and other nutrients to slow glucose absorption, so they will often do more harm than good.
If you want to ensure that you are getting the right form of Vitamin C, you have two options:
- Vitamin-C rich fruits, but eating them whole (with fiber and pulp to slow glucose uptake)
- Vitamin C tablets
IMMUNE BOOSTING FOODS
If you’re consuming a hefty amount of sugar in your diet, it’s time to STOP. Sugar isn’t just going to reduce immune function, but it will also cause diabetes, lead to obesity, and all of the other health problems listed above.
It’s time to take back your body and boost your immune system. You can do so by eating the following foods:
- Mushrooms, which contain B vitamins your immune system needs
- Yogurt, which contain probiotics to boost beneficial bacteria
- Whole grains, which are rich in microbe-fighting beta-glucan
- Garlic, which contains the immune-boosting antioxidant allicin
- Chicken soup, which is rich in the amino acid glutamine, which plays a central role in immune health
Glutamine is a very important amino acid for your immune system, and it can help to decrease leaky gut syndrome, improve digestion, and so much more. It’s worth it to add a glutamine supplement to your life in order to not just increase your immune health, but to improve your body’s well being in many other ways!
Sugar does affect your whole body and is a health hazard! Check the infographic below and learn more why you should avoid adding sugar to your diet.