The immune system is a complex defense mechanism that is constantly at work to fight off harmful pathogens that cause us to become ill. This system has a vast array of components and biological processes at work, ranging from specific body parts all the way down to the cellular level.
Because the immune system is so complex, there are many lifestyle factors that can either help or harm its function. Nutrition is an extremely important part of the equation.
Poor dietary habits, such as eating excessive amounts of sugar, simple carbohydrates and processed foods are entirely detrimental to immune health. The body is only able to fuel itself with the things that we consume, so it only makes sense that ingesting harmful substances that provide little nutritional value only serves to negatively affect our health.
While there are many reasons why a poor diet is bad for your immune system, we will highlight three specific reasons why this is the case.
Risks Of Bacterial Infection
Bacteria can certainly be defined as having a sweet tooth. These microorganisms absolutely love sugar and will readily use it as their primary fuel source. While there are an enormous amount of these guys inside of the body that are only there to help us, other kinds of bacteria are not so benevolent.
A diet that is high in sugar places you at a higher risk for developing a bacterial infection, as any harmful kinds of bacteria present in the body are able to multiply more quickly when there is plenty of fuel on hand.
While it is true that the immune system is effective at preventing infections caused by bacteria, it is never a good idea to place more strain on this defense mechanism than it already has.
We are all aware that consuming too much sugar is bad for us in general. However, most people only consider cavities, acne and weight gain to be the consequences of excess sugar consumption. While these issues are certainly unfavorable, your immune system also suffers when you go overboard with sweets.
Chronic Inflammation Is Bad For Immunity
Inflammation and the immune system have somewhat of a curious relationship. Intermittently, the body uses the inflammatory response as a way to heal and repair itself. When you develop a sinus infection or sprain your ankle, the swelling that occurs is your immune systems way of resolving the situation.
However, inflammation is not something that should be present in the body all the time. Chronic inflammation weakens the immune system by forcing it to be turned on constantly. Many diseases and serious health issues have long been linked to chronic inflammation in the body.
Poor nutrition and improper dietary habits are known to cause inflammation the body. A diet that is high in sugar, refined foods and low in fiber is a lethal recipe for causing the body to maintain an inflamed state.
Eat The Right Foods
Your diet is a key part of a healthy immune system. Fruits and vegetables provide Vitamins C and E, which help keep your immune system strong.
- Vitamin C is needed by white blood cells to destroy infection in your body.
- Vitamin E helps keep your blood vessels working correctly so your body can transport blood to infected areas.
- Beta-carotene and other antioxidants are also found in fruits and vegetables. When your body processes food into energy, it creates harmful byproducts called free radicals. Over time, free radicals can damage healthy cells in your body and cause disease. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help neutralize free radicals to keep you healthy.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Many fruits and vegetables naturally contain high volumes of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruit – oranges, lemons, limes
- Red, green or yellow pepper
- Sweet potatoes
- Kakadu plums
- Acerola cherries
- Rose hips
- Chili peppers
- Mustard spinach
Vitamin E Rich Foods
- Sunflower Seeds
- Oils: sunflowers, wheat germ and olive oil
- Vegetable Oils
Antioxidant and Beta Carotene Rich Foods
- Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- Romaine lettuce
- Sweet potatoes
- Red and yellow peppers
The Immune System Goes As The Rest Of The Body Goes
Probably the most important factor to consider when linking nutrition and the immune system is that the system itself is a direct reflection of your overall health and well-being. Anything that is bad for your body is also harmful to your immune system and vice versa.
If your nutrition is poor, you are likely to experience excess weight gain, poor quality of sleep and many other ailments that negatively affect your body as a whole. Therefore, it is important to avoid separating your fitness and health from your immune system.
Taking care of your body through proper diet and exercise is a sure fire way to make sure you are fortifying your immune system as well.
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