Sugar is quite simply, delicious, those that say otherwise, are obviously fibbing. But as heavenly as that icing-topped cupcake or sugar-laden sundae tastes, you should know by now that’s it’s just no good for your body. The real question is, how might excess sugar intake impact your immune system? It might be time to start to rethink your relationship with the not so sweet, sugar.
Past research indicates that the immune system activity is suppressed following consumption of free sugars. Simply put, too much sugar is bad for your immune system.
Sugar may also inhibit the activity of vitamin C, and we all know how vitamin C is the hero in the fight against infection!
What we want to be focussing on is the quality of your overall diet and its effect on the immune system. With every bite of food you take, you can change your gut flora. In our modern diet we tend to overfeed the bad guys. To put it simply, ‘bad’ bacteria tend to feed on sugar and unhealthy fats (yes, I’m talking about junk food!). These excess sugars can increase inflammation, which places extra strain on the immune system. The single most important nutrient that good bacteria need to thrive inside you is fibre.
Today’s ‘modern diet’ tends to be made up of highly processed, high-sugar, high-fat, low-fibre foods. The bad bacteria thrive on these types of foods. Unfortunately, you might be feeding the bad guys (and your taste buds), but you also starve the good, beneficial bacteria too
Key nutrients from real, whole foods which include vitamins, minerals and nutrients help build the body’s defences, including the health of the microbiome.
The mucosal lining of our intestine (a.k.a. our gut) is one of our first lines of defence to harmful pathogens. To maintain a healthy gut lining, we require help from the beneficial gut bugs (probiotics). In turn, to support these little fellas to flourish, we must feed them with the proper fuel they need to thrive.
When we have a poor diet high in added sugars and ultra-processed foods, the good bugs in our gut is reduced. In turn our intestinal lining is weakened, making us more vulnerable to illness.
What you eat matters
While a little processed food or added sugar here and there will not break the health bank, if you want to strengthen your immune system, consider what you eat and whether it will nourish you, your immune system, and your beneficial gut bugs.
What to do:
Eat real food: First and foremost, enjoy a diet largely consisting of antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Whole or minimally processed foods deliver immune supporting nutrients, while also helping feed beneficial gut bugs. In short, they love fibre! Just one serve of FibreMax™ gives you 40% of your daily fibre intake. If the foundation of your diet is based on vegetables, some fruit, whole food sources of fibre, healthy fats, and quality protein, you are on the right track. Eat organic, if possible.
Get good quality sleep: Just as important as eating real food is getting some sleep. Only when we get adequate and good quality rest can our body restore, and in turn the immune system operates at its best!
Aim for 7-8 hours of quality snooze time, preferably starting earlier in the evening. Struggling with a racing mind? Try diaphragmatic breathing, journaling, or mindfulness practice to slow things down.
Limit or avoid ultra-processed food: Ultra-processed food and beverages, often containing artificial ingredients, refined unhealthy oils, excess sodium and added sugars, only cause harm to the microbiome and deplete the body of beneficial nutrients and its ability to fight infection. Swap out for the real, whole nutrient-dense foods instead.
Enjoy plenty of immune-supportive nutrients and antioxidants
Increase intake of whole foods containing key immune- supportive nutrients, including zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. Check out our Omega CoQ10 and King C.
Antioxidant-rich food is also great for enhanced defence! Think berries, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, carrot, leeks, onions, garlic, sprouts, herbs, spices – the list goes on.
H20 is the way to go: Keep fluids up and drink at least 2 litres of water throughout each day. Did you know that being only 3% dehydration is enough to cause fatigue, tiredness and that mental fogginess around your head? Not only that, it helps with your digestion. So will help process your food a lot quicker
Manage stress: Stress can suppress immune function, so find ways to manage that suit your interests, such as meditation, taking several diaphragmatic breaths, having a good laugh, catching up with friends, doing some stretches or yoga poses, or going for a run. Get moving, preferably outside
With so many benefits to exercising you would expect everyone to be exercising regularly, yet only 50% of adults do. Getting regular exercise doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, you just need to find activities you enjoy and move at every opportunity.