First, you learned the TRUTH about immunity supporting foods.
BOTTOM LINE: There’s not one food, or nutrient, that will support or distract your immune system. Research shows that it’s an overall pattern of eating that makes a difference in supporting your immune system.
Then you learned what foods can promote a healthy immune system.
BOTTOM LINE: Foods that provide your body with prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, omega-3 fats and phytochemicals are all important in supporting your immune system.
NOW learn about what foods can ‘distract’ your immune system!
The thing about sugar is that it’s complicated. There are a lot of different kinds of sugar. Natural sugar, fruit sugar, added sugar, artificial sugar. The type and how much you consume is what matters!
YES, glucose (the building block of carbohydrates) feeds EVERY cell in our body. And yes, you can consume some added sugar as part of a healthy diet. The problem is not in having a little bit of added sugar (like the tsp you might add to coffee or tea, brown sugar on your oatmeal, or a little dusting of sugar to sweeten your grapefruit.
The problem is if you form a pattern of eating a lot of added sugar from sweets, processed foods, and sugary beverages.
There’s a big difference between the tsp of sugar in your coffee and the 4 pumps of syrup in your coffee shop mocha!!
Be mindful of your eating pattern!
In addition to keeping your added sugars in check, you want your eating habits to also be low in:
- Refined Starches: instead of processed, “white” or “enriched” grains, make a habit of choosing whole grains, like brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread, barley, quinoa, whole oats, or teff.
- Saturated Fats & Trans Fats: Obviously, you need solid fats (butter, coconut oil, lard) for some things, but when appropriate, choose oils when cooking. Also – be sure to read ingredient lists and nutrition facts labels to avoid trans fat.
Is it a Habit??
A lot of people have questions about “But how much is ok, and how much is too much? Where do I draw the line?”
It’s hard, especially in a culture where food is CONSTANTLY AVAILABLE! I try to help clients identify what their habits are, and I typically use this as a guide:
- Habit = 3x/week or more
- Occasional = 1-2 x/ week
- Sparingly = 0-1x/ week
- Seldom = <1 x/ week
- Rarely = 0-2x/ month
If you’re having a soda 3 or more times a week, that’s a habit, so try to cut back.
Also – be sure you focus on good habits, like eating fruit with your breakfast 3 or more times a week. And brushing your teeth – that’s also a good habit! 😛
When it comes to Foods for Immunity, it is MORE IMPORTANT TO GET THE NUTRIENTS YOUR BODY NEEDS, rather than focusing on what you should “avoid.” FYI – life is more fun this way!
Note that in the graphic I shared above, there is a full “immune distracting” category for eating patterns that are LOW in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fats.
I think the secret to having the strongest immune system that you can, is to be sure you are INCLUDING these things regularly. Guess what? If you focus on including all these wonderful, nourishing nutrients, you will find that you don’t have nearly as much room in your eating pattern for the other, less nourishing nutrients.
Also – by making things at home, you have a lot more control over how much is added. Here is an awesome video by Michael Pollan I saw on facebook this week that I think explains the difference between homemade and processed foods perfectly:
Make it a habit to make food yourself. Your health, and immunity, is worth your time!
Here are some great resources to understand more about how diet and lifestyle affect immunity: