As winter begins to bring lower temperatures, people often become ill more frequently. The climate change often unfairly shoulders the blame. Unfortunately, bitter cold is not the sole culprit behind the common cold. Diet plays an immense role in our daily health. While some foods are known to provide healthful benefits, many more common foods actually
decrease the function of our immune system.
To stay healthy this holiday season, stay away from the following foods as often as possible.
Seasonal sweets. Pumpkin pie, gingerbread and cookies are loaded with sugar. Excess sugar overloads the body with empty calories, which frequently leads to overeating and weight gain. Just as importantly, sugar also opens the door for viruses and invading bacteria. Studies have shown that 75-100mg of sugar-the amount in a single 20-ounce soda-can suppress the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria. This effect applies to refined white table sugar as well as high fructose corn syrup.
Coffee and tea. While coffee in moderation may have a few health benefits, excessive coffee consumption can prevent your body’s natural period of restoration, sleep. To maintain optimum immune function, your body requires about eight hours of sleep each day. Too much caffeine interferes with the natural sleep cycle, which suppresses your immune system function and increases your risk of getting sick.
Vegetable oils. These cooking liquids are loaded with linoleic acid. Not to be confused with its weight-loss-inducing cousin conjugated linoleic acid, this polyunsaturated fatty acid lowers immune function. Sunflower oil was once used to medically suppress the immune systems of patients receiving kidney transplants. By holding back the immune system, patients’ bodies were less likely to reject the transplanted organ. (This practice has long been discontinued. The suppression of the immune system was linked to increased susceptibility to cancer.)
Fried chicken. Fried meats are harmful to the immune system because they cause aches and pains in various areas throughout the body. This increase in inflammation enables viruses and bacteria the opportunity to invade the body. Bundle up this holiday season, but eat immunity-boosting foods like fruits and leafy green vegetables to stay healthy.