How to Boost Your Immune System:
7 Ways to Minimize Sugar’s Impact
Too much sugar isn’t the only culprit for impaired immunity. Poor gut health (characterized by lack of healthy flora), increased pollution, and chronic stress is among the variables that contribute to immune dysfunction.
At the same time, excess sugar is a key driver for impaired immunity. Understanding the effects of sugar on the brain and body can motivate you to minimize intake and boost the immune system naturally. Here are seven ways to reduce your sugar intake.
1. Shop the outer aisles.
Most processed foods high in refined sugar lurk within the center aisles of your grocery store. While there are a few exceptions like raw nuts, you’ll find most lower-sugar, nutrient-rich options in the outside of your grocery store.
2. Know where sugar hides.
About 74% of packaged products contain added sugar! Read ingredients. Anything ending in “-ose” is sugar, but researchers estimate there are 61 names for sugar.
3. Be wary of processed foods with health claims.
Breakfast cereals and snack bars sometimes boast bold claims like “10 grams of fiber per serving.” Turn the container around and look at the nutrition intake. Many are packed with refined sugar and other problem ingredients. As a general rule, one serving should contain five grams or less of sugar and five grams or more of dietary fiber.
4. Prepare home-cooked foods.
Pre-packaged meals and store-bought dinners often contain added sugar. When you make a homemade marinara sauce, you can be sure there’s no added sugar. That goes for nearly any homemade food — including desserts. When you’re craving something sweet, make your own healthy desserts at home that contain little to no added sugar
5. Learn to appreciate naturally sweet foods.
Nature packs its own satisfying sweet foods that also come with dietary fiber and nutrients to optimize your health. Almonds, berries, and even leafy greens can satisfy your sweet tooth without added sugar.
6. Curb your sweet tooth with this trick.
L-glutamine, a multitasking amino acid, can curb your sweet tooth. “A spoonful of [L-glutamine] powder will do wonders for knocking your sugar cravings right out of the park,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., in The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy. L-glutamine powdermixes well into your protein smoothie or a glass of water.
7. Optimize immune-supporting nutrients.
Certain vitamins and minerals support healthy blood sugar levels. Magnesium in leafy green vegetables and nuts, for instance, can improve insulin sensitivity. Eating a whole, unprocessed foods diet can provide these nutrients to optimize immune function. A multivitamin-mineral can cover the nutrient bases you might not be getting from food.
One of life’s little pleasures is a sweet treat. An ice cream cone on a hot July day or a slice of birthday cake are part of life’s pleasures, but they should be an occasional enjoyment and not a regular habit.
Supporting your immune system requires maintaining a healthy diet low in refined sugars and rich in nutrient-dense, whole foods. Read more on how to reduce inflammation, optimize antioxidants, and support a healthy immune system so you can enjoy a vibrant, energetic life.
Healthy Living Tip
Get on the move, make it a habit!
Physical activity is important for people of all weight ranges and health conditions. It helps us burn off the extra calories, it is good for the heart and circulatory system, it maintains or increases our muscle mass, it helps us focus, and improves overall health well-being. We don’t have to be top athletes to get on the move! 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is advised, and it can easily become part of our daily routine. We all could:
- use the stairs instead of the elevator,
- go for a walk during lunch breaks (and stretch in our offices in between)
- make time for a family weekend activity
- 4 oz of chopped peppers
- 1 seedless cucumber, diced
- 3 celery sticks, slice
- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 tsp fresh tarragon
- 2 tsp fresh basil
- Combine peppers, cucumber, celery, fennel & onion in a large bowl. Cover & refrigerate.
- Whisk oil with lemon juice, garlic tarragon & basil, cover & refrigerate.
- One hour before serving, toss salad with dressing.
- Add sea salt & pepper to taste.