6 Foods that Wreck Your Immune System

By Unite Fitness Retreat Dietician, Brooke Bouwhuis

Foods that wreck our immune system are all around us.  It’s easy to demonize them but much harder to stay away from them.  They are foods high in sugar, salt and fat.  It’s super easy for manufactures to use these cheap ingredients to addict us to these foods.  When your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to get sick.  If you eat a lot of foods and beverages high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, which the body processes as sugar, you may be reducing your body’s ability to ward off disease.

Eating a well-rounded diet high in pretty, colorful veggies and fruits will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off illness. These foods help your body regulate and stabilize to work at peak performance.  What about the foods you should avoid?

Here are the top 6 foods & drinks that hurt your immune system:

  1. Sugar, sugar, sugar – a socially acceptable white puffy powder that makes us feel momentarily amazing but causes a ton of damage to our body. Sugar is VERY inflammatory. It is also found in high levels in foods that have other negative health side effects – foods high in sodium and fat.  75% of all packaged foods on a grocery store floor have sugar added to them. Sugar is cheap, addictive and delicious. That is why it’s in and on everything. We crave it, buy more of it, love to eat it and buy it again.  Studies have shown spikes in sugar intake suppress your immune system.
  2. Soda – it is liquid sugar and liquid inflammation which damages the immune system.  Juice – whole fresh fruit is wrapped in fiber and phytonutrients is the opposite of sugar, sugar, sugar.  Please eat the 5 oranges it takes to make one glass of juice, you will be so full after eating 2 oranges that you will stop. Whole fresh fruit is not inflammatory.  Tampico, Tang and juice are just concentrated sugar.  Read the label and decide if it’s a product that will work for you or against you.  Sugar in particular lights up the dopamine centers in our brain.  Sex, drugs, rock and roll and sugar – please do that again as much as possible, begs our brain.
  3.  Processed Foods like crackers-heavily processed crap food in crinkly wrappers. A huge category of food at the grocery store. Read those labels to see what is really in those products you are buying. Heavily processed flours do the same thing to your blood sugar as sugar. They damage your gut, cause low grade systemic inflammation, and damage your immune system.
  4. Refined Carbohydrates, like cereal – most cereals are simply heavily processed grains with sugar, artificial flavors and artificial colors, devoid of fiber and protein they don’t really even satisfy your hunger.  We eat cereal because it’s cheap and easy.  Whole grain toast with avocado and a hardboiled egg is also cheap and easy.  Change your thought process, change a habit, change your life.  If you are gluten free, you are not off the hook.  Gluten free products are rarely whole grain and will jack up your insulin response the same way as all processed wheat products. Rice flour, corn starch, potato starch and brown rice flour are all heavily processed. The word “whole” needs to be in front of the ingredient in order to actually discern if it is a product made with whole grains.
  5. Alcohol – it stings but alcohol does disrupt the gut microbiome and therefore your immune system too.  A decreased ability to defend the body from infection compounded with the damage done to the liver in simply trying to process the toxin of alcohol out of the body are two ways these drinks can harm our bodies.

We have all been craving foods that wreck our immune system as we have been sheltering in place or staying at home distancing from family and friends.  It’s a natural way for us to balance stress for a very short time frame but these comforting foods do nothing to help us stay in good health.


Stay Healthy Friends!