We recently have heard a lot about the importance of a balanced immune system. Let’s review some simple tools we have in hand to go through the seasons without a sniff, cold or cough.*
1- Does eating too much sugar crash your immune system?
The ingestion of a slice of white bread or a chocolate bar may depress your immune system for up to two hours. Through nutritional immunomodulation, your white blood cells enter into some sort of temporary coma.
Sugar impacts your health in a complex interplay of hormonal, metabolic and immunologic processes.
– Excess sugar affects your energy production as it alters your mitochondrial function. As you feel run down, you are more susceptible to infections.
– Excess sugar leads to gut microbial imbalances and intestinal permeability. This, in turn, promotes immune overload.
– If your blood sugar looks like a roller coaster, you experience mood swings, brain fog and fatigue and tend to eat more sugar to compensate. The psychological stress induced weakens further your immune system.
Sugar’s detrimental impact on your immune system can be cumulative and far-reaching. Blood sugar balance is a non-negotiable in my practice, for a balanced immune system.
2- Nutrients for immune efficiency
Many processed food or food high in refined sugar is low in nutrients. When you are nutrient depleted, your risks for infections increase.
The main immune regulators are vitamin A and D, but also zinc, vitamin C, B’s, iron, protein and selenium. All have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells**. As we are spending most of our time indoors, vitamin D deficiency is commonly seen in my practice and well worth assessing.
A balanced “Paleo-Mediterranean” diet, is what I do recommend for healthy immunity, with a few selected supplements if warranted.
3- Open your fasting window
Beyond the quality of your diet, Time-Restricted Feeding has been shown to enhance the body’s natural defences.
A 2014 study shows that prolonged fasting regulates immune cell protection, self-renewal and regeneration by reducing the levels of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1.
Time-Restricted Feeding may also increase disease resistance. While in a fasting state, cells respond by engaging in a coordinated adaptive response with positive ripple effects on the immune system.
Time-restricted feeding may also prevent weight gain. Metabolic disturbance due to visceral adiposity is associated with some immune alteration. Worth avoiding extra kilos.
4- Day in and day out, with every bite, you can reinforce your immune system function
Practising good daily habits such as healthy eating, adequate sleep, exercise and personal hygiene support your immune system and may prevent bacterial and viral infections.
One of the most powerful things you can do is to minimize sugar, especially those from processed foods. Fruits, legumes, tubers, and even green leafy or cruciferous vegetables do contain sugar. But they also come with fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and other nutrients that buffer sugar’s impact on your immune system.
Let’s talk about Gut Ecology and Immune Modulation and Focus on Food First.
* This article is about prevention and empowerment, not about a quick fix or a miracle cure. However, there are powerful tips you can implement or reinforce straight away.