A strong immune system is vital for staying healthy. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and good nutrition are all things that support your immune system. Conversely, running on a sleep deficit, living a sedentary lifestyle, and eating unhealthy foods will make your immune system weak. Let's take a look at some of the absolute worst types of food for your immune system.
Foods That Destroy Your Immune System
Nutrition is a factor when considering the strength or weakness of your immune system. Eating whole, organic foods that are free of additives and chemicals provide the best nutrients without any toxins. This is the food that nourishes your body and supports immune function. But not all foods do that, let's look at the 5 that are the worst for immune function.
1. Red Meat
Red meat can trigger a dangerous reaction that can weaken the immune system. The issue comes from a natural sugar in red meat that our bodies can’t digest. The sugar is believed to cause a host of other health concerns — a higher risk of cancer being one of those.
2. Fried Foods
In addition to being full of fats that could increase your “bad” cholesterol, fried foods can also trigger inflammation, leading to reduced immunity. Cutting back on fried foods — or better yet, getting rid of them altogether — could help restore the body’s natural defenses. Plus, fried foods accumulate acrylamide — a dangerous carcinogen.
If you’re drinking soda — it really doesn’t matter what it’s sweetened with — you’re likely harming your immune system. Even diet soda is a bad option. Because soda has no beneficial nutrients, drinkers are less likely to get enough vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium — all necessary for an optimum immune system. And, if that wasn’t enough, phosphoric acid (found in sodas) can also deplete calcium and magnesium in the body.
4. Sugary Snacks
Some sugars — refined ones are the absolute worst — can actually suppress the immune system. Refined sugar actually targets the cells that attack bacteria. And the effect can even last for hours after you eat something sugary.
5. Processed Foods
One of the most dangerous foods to immune health, in my opinion, is processed foods. How come? Because there are many food companies out there who are using the terms “natural” to describe their product, even though their foods may have a hefty amount of refined carbohydrates, sugar, and hidden flavorings. Even organic processed foods, like cereal and bread, can contain immune-suppressing sugar. Processed foods are basically anything that comes in a package, contains more than one ingredient, and has been cooked and modified mechanically. Eating processed foods can lead to chronic irritation in the body. The toxins of a modern diet completely outweigh the possible nutritional gains. All this is leading us to weaker immune systems, higher rate of illnesses and diseases, and all-around poor health.
Natural Immune System Support
If you want a healthy immune system, in addition to getting rid of these foods, you could also try eating some that boost your immunity instead. These include vitamin C-rich foods like green vegetables and citrus. Exercise is also a healthy component, as is stress reduction and vitamin D supplementation. Oregano oil is also a powerful harmful organism cleanser and may have some benefit for immune health.
- Samraj, A. N. et al. A red meat-derived glycan promotes inflammation and cancer progression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (2).
- Vlassara, H. et al. Protection against Loss of Innate Defenses in Adulthood by Low Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE) Intake: Role of the Antiinflammatory AGE Receptor-1. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 94 (11).
- Sanchez, A. et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. he American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 26 (11).
- Myles, I. A. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.