Want to stay healthy and productive all year long? Avoid these foods as much as possible! From sugar to fast food, these foods will weaken your immune system.
We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat.” And it’s not just some old expression — it’s actually true.
What you put into your body has a direct effect on how your body functions. Your diet doesn’t just affect your weight. It can also strengthen or weaken your entire immune system, which needs to be strong in order to fight off viruses and diseases.
Sure, most of us can handle the sore throat and stuffy head that comes with the common cold. And most of us can endure and recover from the flu with the right antibiotics and a little rest.
But if the spread of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that it’s better to prevent a disease than to rely on medicine to treat one.
If you’re ready to make your body healthier from the inside out, it’s time to change your diet. Here are 13 foods that can weaken your immune system and should be avoided at all costs.
The Four Food Categories to Avoid
There’s not a snack or a meal in the world that’s worth risking your health for.
If you’re ready to boost your immune system to ward off future colds and viruses, here are the four food categories you need to avoid:
Bacteria and viruses need an energy source to thrive and grow, and that energy source is sugar. Having too much sugar in your system can make it difficult to fight off bacteria, as the bacteria actually use that sugar to grow.
Sugary foods can also lead to weight gain and obesity, which can compromise your immune system in multiple ways.
Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and put unnecessary strain on your heart, kidneys, and brain. But it can also lead to immune deficiencies and reduce your ability to fight off bacterial infections.
Foods that are high in fat can lead to weight gain. Excessive weight gain will lead to obesity, which will compromise your immune system.
Most processed foods are loaded with sugar, salt, and fat. Of all of the things to avoid, this is the one category of food to steer clear of, as it’s full of everything that’s harmful to your immune system.
13 Foods That Weaken the Immune System
If sugar, fat, salt, and processed food make up the majority of your diet, it’s time to put together a new nutrition plan.
Ready to make your immune system stronger? Here’s what you should eliminate from your diet:
Candy is filled with sugar, and the more sugar you store in the body, the more likely you are to see increased inflammation. When the immune system is busy fighting off inflammation, it slows down.
Fried foods are high in fat, which can lead to rapid weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. As delicious as French fries and fried chicken may be, it’s time to cut them from your diet. Why are fried foods so bad? Because they’re usually fried in refined oils, which also cause inflammation.
White flour, which is used to make white bread, contains additives that cause inflammation and weaken your immune system. Avoid white bread, rolls, and even pasta made with white flour as much as possible.
Cookies and Pastries
Like bread and rolls, cookies and pastries are often made with white flour. Instead of reaching for a batch of chocolate chips or sticky buns, look for healthier alternatives that don’t include white flour.
Both potato chips and corn chips are high in both salt and fat.
Many people think that the healthier alternative is to snack on pretzels. But, while pretzels may not be greasy, they too are high in salt and contain fat.
The next time you get a craving for your favorite fast food combo meal, do your best to resist the urge to pull into the drive-through. Fast foods encompass all four of the food categories you should avoid. Fast food is processed. It’s high in fat. It’s high in salt. In many cases, it’s fried. Fast food has almost no nutritional value. Another reason to avoid it is that it’s low in fiber, which is a great immune system booster.
The next time you pick up a can of soup in the grocery store, look at the label. The sodium content on canned soups is usually through the roof. A can of corn chowder or a bowl of chicken noodle soup may sound delicious, but remember this: If it’s in a can, it’s been processed in some way, so it should be avoided.
Sorry TV dinners, frozen pizzas, and chicken nuggets, but you’ve all got to go! Frozen meals and frozen snacks are usually loaded with salt. If it’s frozen, it’s been processed. And most frozen foods are high in fat to boot!
Processed meats are high in salt and nitrates and often include other chemicals as well. And when we say processed meats, we’re not just talking about hot dogs. Bacon, cold cuts, and most deli meats fall into this category, as well. If you’re looking to strengthen your immune system, hot dogs are just one of the many things you should avoid.
Red meat is high in acid, and consuming too much of it can actually make the pH levels in your body too acidic. When those pH levels are too acidic, the levels of important minerals (such as magnesium and potassium) are reduced.
Watch What You Drink
It’s not just food that can weaken your immune system. There are lots of beverages that can do just as much harm. Here are three drinks to avoid as much as you can:
Drinking alcohol can cause a whole array of physical problems. For starters, it can make you more susceptible to pneumonia and other respiratory conditions. If you drink while you have an infection, the alcohol levels in your blood can make it take longer for that infection to heal. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult males limit their alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks per day. For adult females, one drink per day is the recommended maximum.
As you probably already know, soda is high in sugar. But that’s not the only reason it’s bad for your immune system. Soda also contains caffeine, which can affect your sleep habits and cause inflammation in the body. This includes diet soda as well. Diet sodas are full of fake sugars that can cause the same inflammatory effects and have an adverse effect on your metabolism.
There is zero health benefit to drinking energy drinks. They’re full of sugar, caffeine, and other chemicals that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. And solid, healthy sleep habits are key to building and maintaining a strong immune system.
If all of your favorite foods made this list, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But let this be a wake-up call. Make this the moment where you start to adopt healthier habits!
After all, the best way to fight off a virus, an infection, or a disease is to build up your immune system so you don’t get sick in the first place.
Caitlin Sinclair is the business manager at Broadstone Heights Waterworks. With over five years of property management experience, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping current and future residents and makes Broadstone Heights Waterworks a place everyone loves to call home.