While a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet supports your immune system, a diet that’s low in nutrients and high in ultra-processed foods impairs immune function.

Iran PressAmerica: Our diet affects how we feel and how well our body functions. This article lists 10 foods that may weaken our immune system.

1. Added sugar

Foods that significantly raise blood sugar, such as those high in added sugars, increase the production of inflammatory proteins like tumor necrosis alpha (TNF-α), C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin-6 (IL-6), all of which negatively affect immune function.

Limiting your intake of foods and beverages high in added sugar, including ice cream, cake, candy, and sugary beverages, can improve your overall health and promote healthy immune function.

Studies have associated high blood sugar levels with impaired immune response. Limiting your intake of sugary foods and beverages can promote better blood sugar management and immune response.

2. Salty foods

Salty foods like chips, frozen dinners, and fast food may impair your body’s immune response, as high salt diets may trigger tissue inflammation and increase the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Eating too much salt has been shown to worsen existing autoimmune diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

Studies show that a high salt intake may impair normal immune function, promote inflammation, and increase your susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.

3. Foods high in omega-6 fats

Diets high in omega-6 fats seem to promote the expression of pro-inflammatory proteins that may weaken the immune response, while diets higher in omega-3 fats reduce the production of those proteins and enhance immune function.

What’s more, studies in people with obesity indicate that a high dietary intake of omega-6 fats may lead to immune dysfunction and increase the risk of certain conditions like asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Eating more omega-3-rich foods and fewer omega-6-rich foods may promote optimal immune function.

4. Fried foods

Fried foods are high in a group of molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AEGs are formed when sugars react with proteins or fats during high-temperature cooking, such as during frying.

If levels become too high in your body, AGEs can contribute to inflammation and cellular damage.

Cutting back on fried foods like french fries, potato chips, fried chicken, pan-fried steak, fried bacon, and fried fish will reduce your intake of AGEs.

Fried foods aren’t good for overall health and may cause immune dysfunction. Fried foods are high in AGEs and should be limited in any healthy diet.

5. Processed and charred meats 

Like fried foods, processed and charred meats are high in AGEs.

Additionally, a high intake of processed meats and charred meat has been linked to various diseases, including colon cancer.

Diets high in processed meat and meats cooked at high temperatures have been linked to increased disease risk and may harm your immune system.

6. Fast food 

Diets high in fast food and highly processed foods may drive inflammation, increase gut permeability, and cause bacteria imbalance in the gut, all of which can negatively affect your immune health.

Fast food can also contain the chemicals bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), which are two types of phthalates. Phthalates can leach into fast food, for example, through packaging or plastic gloves worn during food preparation.

Keep your intake of fast food to a minimum. Eating too much of it is associated with health risks and may harm your immune system.

7. Foods that contain certain additives

Ultra-processed foods contain additives like emulsifiers, thickeners, and sweeteners that may affect immune function.

8. Highly refined carbs

A diet high in refined carbs may adversely affect your immune system. Choosing more nutritious carb sources like fruits and starchy vegetables is a better choice for your overall health.

9. Certain high-fat foods

Eating a diet high in saturated fat may impair immune function. Following a balanced, high-fiber diet is likely a good way to support immune health.

10. Artificially sweetened foods and beverages

Certain artificial sweeteners have been linked to altered gut bacteria composition, increased inflammation in the gut, and blunted immune response.

Artificial sweeteners have been associated with alterations in gut bacteria that may harm immune function. Additionally, some research suggests that high intake may contribute to the progression of autoimmune diseases.

The bottom line

You can support your immune system by living a healthy lifestyle.

This means limiting foods and beverages that are high in added sugars and salt, processed meats, and fried foods, all of which may have adverse effects on your body’s immune function.

To support your immune system, it’s best to follow a balanced diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and limit your intake of ultra-processed foods as much as possible.


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