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6 Eating Habits that Will Compromise Your Immunity
We all know that eating the right food will boost your body’s natural defenses, but how often do we stop to think about whether what we’re eating will negatively affect our immunity? You’d be surprised by how many different foods and eating habits can actually compromise your immunity and make your body less effective at protecting you from disease. Here are a few of the eating habits you’ll want to be careful of if you want to keep your immune system strong:
Underconsuming Fruits and Veggies
This is the #1 factor in a reduced immune system! Your body needs vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and veggies in order to maintain its defenses against invading pathogens. Green foods are particularly important, thanks to their high fiber and micronutrient content. Make sure to eat lots of dark, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies to give your body the maximum-quality nutrients it needs.
That’s right, too much sodium can compromise your immunity! An excess of salt can build up in your kidneys, triggering a domino effect that leads to your body being less effective at fighting off disease. You’re better off limiting your daily salt intake in order to avoid this kind of problem. To do that, reduce the amount of canned and processed food you eat, cut back on the salt when you cook, and limit the amount of sodium-rich sauces and condiments you add to your food. Reducing your salt intake can avoid compromising your immunity.
We all know that alcohol can have some less-than-desirable side effects—the least of which are vomiting and nasty hangovers—but one of the lesser-known side effects of over-drinking is a weakened immune response. Your body will be less effective at fighting off disease, and you’re more likely to develop health problems that could make you even more susceptible to infection. Stick with no more than two drinks per day, and try to limit that to no more than five times per week. You’ll keep your immune system strong while still being able to enjoy the benefits of alcohol.
Caffeine in excess—especially later in the day—can compromise your sleep quality, which is a known factor in reduced immune function. You’ll also find your immunity further compromised if you end up drinking very sweet caffeinated drinks (see the next item on this list). Limit yourself to caffeine in the morning—before 2 or 3 PM—and make sure to limit the amount of sugar you add into your drinks.
Overdosing on Sugar
Sugar reduces your body’s ability to eliminate bacteria and viruses, reducing your immunity. To make things worse, it also acts as food to the bacteria, meaning they will be stronger and more likely to overwhelm your body’s reduced defenses. You don’t need to cut sugar from your life completely—though that can be a very healthy choice—but you should strive to limit it as much as possible. Avoid all added-sugar foods and anything that is made very sweet.
Insufficient Fiber Intake
Fiber is the primary ingredient the beneficial bacteria in your gut need in order to flourish. Without enough fiber, your gut bacteria will decrease and thus be unable to fight the bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens you ingest via your food. Experts estimate that up to 80% of your immune activity takes place in your gut, with your beneficial gut bacteria being the first line of defense. By eating enough fiber, you make sure your body has what it needs to protect you.