As a health writer, sometimes I have to be the bearer of bad news. But the truth is that it all depends on how you look at it. Sometimes the scary stuff is a blessing in disguise.
For example, your favorite foods could be making you sick or at least weakening your immune system so it’s less likely to defend you from illness.
Unless your favorite foods are blueberries, oatmeal, or a host of other whole fruits and vegetables.
But no one is going to blame you if a burger and fries, pizza, ice cream, or some other sweet or savory treat is what turns your crank.
That stuff, however, can be bad news for your immune system. There is data to suggest that eating refined or processed foods – like the bulk of the Standard American diet – can cause your body to react like it’s being attacked by a foreign invader.
In other words, it put the immune system into defense mode. Strange, right?
On occasion, it’s no big deal. A few slices of pizza, a piece of cake, or a fast-food burger and fries once a week or so (one, not all) may not do any damage. Eating that stuff regularly, however, can have some serious effects on your immune system.
How? In several ways. Outside of leading to a reaction on their own, those foods can also contribute to conditions like obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and more. Each of those conditions is marked by chronic inflammation, a clear sign of an overactive immune system.
Like most things, dose-dependency is essential when considering the long-term immune response to food choices. A little bit, on occasion, and you’re unlikely to do much harm to your immune system or greatly increase your risk for disease.
But when those favorite foods move from treats to regular features in our diet, you could be setting yourself up for some big trouble.