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Opinion: How to feed your immune system and feel better

The only part of our body that enjoys sugar is our tongue, but the rest of our body resists sugar (it causes inflammation).
Processed sugar is not your body's friend.

The cold and flu bugs often going around right are virulent and causing some nasty health issues, especially for the immune compromised. A strong immunity will make a big difference in how we react to the viruses and infections that are running rampant.  Our health begins with nutrition and everything we eat either helps or hurts our immunity.

Eating foods that are high in vitamin C like fruits and veggies, and avoiding sugar, processed and junk foods will help in our defense against getting sick. Sugar is the most addictive food and is not only in the obvious foods such as candy, deserts, baking, pop and other sugary drinks, but it is added to all processed foods and fast foods.  There is a lot of sugar in alcohol and the body also converts refined carbohydrates to sugar.

In Dr. Nancy Appleton’s book Lick the Sugar Habit, she explains that sugar is a major contributor to the disease process as it weakens our defenses against illness. However, because of the strong addictive nature of sugar, withdrawal may likely bring on the shakes, depression, headaches and even a fever if one tries cutting it out cold turkey.

The only part of our body that enjoys sugar is our tongue, but the rest of our body resists sugar (it causes inflammation).

Our immune system works when white blood cells (neutrophils) rush to the site of an infection and destroy any invading micro-organisms. However, if our blood sugar is too high, an enzyme called protein kinase C may be activated which causes disfunction in the neutrophils and a decrease in IL-6, the chemical messenger that tags the foreign pathogens so the white blood cells can destroy them.

There are several sweet natural alternatives to refined sugar that won’t have the same negative effect on the immune system. These include honey, real maple syrup, agave, monk fruit, dates, and several others.  The natural sugars will satiate your sweet tooth while being healthier on your body.  Ultimately it is best to ween ourselves away from a dependency on sweet food, and including fruit in our diet will help with the sugar craving. Best foods to help to boost our immune system include citrus fruit, kiwi, blueberries (and other berries), ginger, garlic, sunflower seeds and almonds, turmeric root, red peppers, sweet potatoes, kefir and kombucha, immune boosting teas, oily fish and dark chocolate to name a few.  Drinking enough water, giving up smoking, limiting alcohol, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are healthy habits that are also beneficial for immunity.

I know I sound like a broken record and this message is a common theme in my articles, but please make the connection between sugar and ill health.  Sugar not only affects our weight and our resistance to any lurking viruses, but feeds cancer, bacteria, parasites, yeast and pathogens.  Avoiding sugar and eating immune boosting food is the best thing we can do to for our health right now.

Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment.