Foods and drinks that can harm your immune system

Can your food make you sick? Studies have shown spikes in sugar intake suppress your immune system. When your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to get sick. If you eat a lot of foods and beverages high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, which the body processes as sugar, you may be reducing your body’s ability to ward off disease.

“Eating a well-rounded diet high in pretty, colorful veggies and fruits will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off illness. These foods help your body regulate and stabilize to work at peak performance,” says Samer Blackmon, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at Piedmont. “Believe it or not, what you put in your mouth serves as one building block to a strong immune system.”

Dr. Blackmon advises against consuming these things in excess because research has proven them to compromise your immune response, making infections more likely:

  • Soda
  • Processed foods
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Alcoholic beverages

And while they aren’t part of a food group, tobacco products can also compromise your immune system.

“To go the extra mile in ensuring you do have a strong immune system, research suggests that eating garlic and foods high in vitamin C helps ward off infection,” says Dr. Blackmon. “The next time you reach for junk food, realize that you not only are affecting your weight, but you may be letting down your resistance to bacteria, viruses, and parasites.”

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