Not many people will argue that chicken wings, French fries, and ice cream taste good. But could they be making you more susceptible to illness?
It’s possible. If your diet regularly features foods like those or other processed foods high in sugar, refined grains, or fried, it could be taking a toll on your immune system in more ways than one.
Habitually eating “unhealthy” food can tax your immune system by causing inflammation. Such foods can create a natural immune response, meaning your immune system activates to fend off intruders that can ultimately eat away at healthy tissue.
An active immune system is a good thing. It keeps you healthy and works to remove unwanted viruses, bacteria, and other infections. But when it is always turned on, bad things can happen.
For example, chronic inflammation is associated with various chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and more.
A diet largely made up of fast food, fried food, and sugary and processed foods are also linked with these conditions.
When your immune system is turned on and fighting the impacts of these foods, it also means that it does not necessarily have the power to fight off infection should one occur. Because it is already preoccupied, the resources are not available to deploy in other areas.
These types of foods can also diminish the diversity and quality of gut bacteria, which have been linked with immune health.
You might not think about all this when selecting foods, but it is certainly worthwhile.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you must always avoid these foods. Indulging yourself on a hot summer day with ice cream or going out for a burger and fries is fine if it is done occasionally.
For the most part, however, you want to be eating nutrient-dense foods like whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, fish and lean proteins. These items may help strengthen and fight immunity.
When you’re making food choices, try to think about the big picture, not just what you want at the moment. It could help you stay healthy in a number of ways.