One of the major causes of health issues in the last few decades is the consumption of sugar. This is due to the adverse effects of sugar on health and not only in a too-much-calories kind of way, but because sugar damages your immune system.
Now, this is not something that we come across every day. We are mostly directed to read about the weight-gain effect of sugar, but sugar is guilty of more than just that. But before we start digging deeper…
What is sugar?
Sugar is the name used for numerous carbohydrates, but we mustn’t think that all carbohydrates are sugars.
We usually think of sugar as that white, sweet-tasting carbohydrate soluble in water but there are two main types of sugars. We recognize them by their simplicity.
The simplest are monosaccharides – fructose (fruit sugar), galactose, and glucose (dextrose). The other most-used sugars are made of two monosaccharides – disaccharides. These are lactose (milk sugar), maltose (malt sugar), and sucrose (table sugar).
I don’t eat sugar!
We don’t have to eat pure sugar or food that has “SUGAR” written on it to actually be consuming sugar. Very often candies, chocolates, sweet drinks, carbonated beverages, energy drinks and bars and even fruit juices, contain concentrated forms of simple sugars, like high fructose syrup, or corn syrup. So we don’t have to eat a tablespoon of white table sugar or eat cookies to eat sugar. Many of our favorite prepared foods, sauces and spreads also contain sugar.
And one more thing…many people looking to improve their health will opt for low fat/no fat products. Great, right? It would be if it wasn’t for the fact that fat is responsible for the taste as well. So in order to keep that food from tasting like cardboard, many manufacturers add sugar, so be on the lookout for such products because that hidden sugar damages your immune system.
How sugar damages your immune system
Most sugars break down to glucose during digestion. This is the form of sugar that circulates around the human body in our bloodstream. So what does that have to do with our immune system health?
Our immune system, like every other system in our body, is highly affected by our lifestyles. Part of that lifestyle is our diet or eating habits.
Our immune system relies heavily on white blood cells and their proper functioning. Among white blood cells, there are phagocytes. Their name means they “eat” bacteria and microbes. There are various ways of doing so, but the important thing to remember is that sugar affects their functioning. One study observed the effectiveness of phagocytosis in people when subjected to various types of simple sugars. It showed that the presence of sugar in the blood dramatically affected not the number of phagocytes, but their effectiveness. And this effect lasted at least 5 hours after the consumption of simple sugars.
In addition, the correlation between vitamin C, sugar, and bacteria fighting abilities of the immune system was established through numerous research studies.
Vitamin C has a vital role in the activity of phagocytes (such as neutrophils which engulf microbes), their killing, and removing the spent neutrophils by macrophages.
After sugar consummation, the glucose enters the blood, and since glucose has a similar build to vitamin C, phagocytes have a problem getting enough vitamin C while there is sugar around them.
So without a sufficient amount of vitamin C, in the presence of sugar, our immune system can’t fight off the infection properly. This is another example of how sugar damages your immune system.
Besides being very competitive with vitamin C, it also has an impact on our heart, liver, pancreas and teeth health, as well.
Another very closely-linked problem is obesity. Sugar is more consumed in developed countries (western world) than in the third world and developing countries. The average citizen of the US consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day, which is 66 pounds of sugar a year.
Obesity research shows that it leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. People with uncontrolled and high blood sugar levels are at a higher risk of infections. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, has a negative effect on phagocytosis and neutrophil synthesis, which are important for the proper functioning of the innate immune system.
So if sugar damages your immune system what can you do to improve it?
Lowering the amount of simple sugars in the food and drinks we consume is a good start. But in addition to that, we can add more sources of vitamin C to boost our health, and also the wonderful BioPro-Plus, which directly boosts the immune system health of our body.
We need to stay away from processed food, and simple sugars. But…in order to have a good quality of life, we need to enjoy life as well. Having a cake, or our favorite treat every now and then is OK, just don’t make a habit of it. Balance it out with raw food that strengthens your immune system filled with vitamins, fiber, minerals and great taste to top it off.