How Does Sugar Affect The Immune System?

Do you love sugar as much as most people do? Who doesn’t? A dessert is a must have, apparently. Whenever we invite people over to our homes, the first thing we ask: What are we going to make for dessert? When we go out to the restaurants, we also like to take a look at the sweets and most likely order one of these “guilty pleasures”, as a waitress once called it.

But is it good to eat sugar? Are there any effects? Or does sugar affect the immune system? These are all questions that we like to omit when thinking about the stuff that we put into our bodies because the sweets are so delicious and we cannot imagine living without them.

Ever since I learned more about the sugar in your body, I have been asking these questions over and over. I have done some research on it and found interesting things about the effects of sugar on the immune system.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking to some friends and
they asked me what I had done to lose so much weight. I promptly answered that I had ditched sugar and flour. And then one of my friends said something that has been sticking in my head ever since. He said something like this: “If I had to cut 100% sugar and flour of my diet, it would be as hard as for somebody to quit smoking or drinking alcohol. It would be as hard as leaving the worst sin.”

That has stuck with me and I had to reflect on this many times. It is so true that sugar has an addictive effect which most of us do not realize. We tend to think that we need a bit of sugar when we are done with an exercise routine, or we need a Coke just after working outside in the heat, or that we need to eat a piece of chocolate after lunch.

Ever since I cut on sugar and flour, people ask me how I feel. And they usually ask if I am not feeling weak. Let me tell you this, you feel better if you leave that stuff completely out of your meal plan.

Read about my experience with sugar here.

“If I had to cut 100% sugar and flour of my diet, it would be as hard as for somebody to quit smoking or drinking alcohol.”  A strong statement that shows how addictive sugar is.

So, how does sugar affect the immune system? Before I will go into detail to answer that question, let’s take a closer look at what the immune system is.

The Immune System

The immune system is not an organ as the heart or brain is. It is made up of millions of cells that protect the whole body from danger.

Every single second of our lives, we are under attack by viruses, fungus, bacteria, and others that threaten our body. Our immune system is there to protect us from all these. If we did not have an immune system, we would be dead only a few seconds after being born, because there is much that our body is fighting the instant we are born.

There is a wonderful explanation on this video on YouTube that explains the immune system very well.

Our body produces phagocytes, the antibodies that are always around to check for infections or for danger. These cells then envelop the bad bacteria and destroy them with specially produced enzymes. With this step, the pathogens are being stopped from reproducing and spreading disease in the body. Sometimes the bacteria is destroyed, or if it is resistant, the phagocytes neutralize them until the body is able to flush them away.

For example, when a cold is coming, you start to feel tired. Listen to your body, because it is telling you that it is using lots of energy to produce the white blood cells in order to fight the disease. If you do not take the time to rest, you are likely to get sick because the body cannot handle too much stress from the outside and all that is going on in the inside.

Also, if your immune system does not have what it takes to produce the white cells or keep them healthy and happy, not enough antibodies can be produced in the needed time and the disease takes over.

Vitamin C keeps the immune system healthy and that is exactly what you need to give to your immune system so it can feed the antibodies.

Antibodies need at least 50 times the amount of vitamin C to fight intruders than they would normally use when the body is not so much under threat.

But what does this have to do with sugar? Does sugar affect the immune system? You are about to find that out.

Sugar Impact On The Immune System

The interesting thing about sugar is that the body makes it into glucose when you eat it. Now, glucose is similar to vitamin C in its chemical structure.

Whenever your body is fighting an infection, like a cold or the flu, it needs lots and lots of vitamin C in order to be able to fight it off. However, when you do not have enough vitamin C, the immune system looks for anything that can prevent a “crash”. Naturally, it will look for glucose because it thinks that this is vitamin C since it is so similar.

But glucose cannot do anything to prevent diseases or infections, but it will only hinder it from working adequately.

We can affirm that sugar blocks our immune system.

And off we go to be sick for a few days, and sometimes weeks.

It is said that a blood sugar level of 120 reduces the immune system by 75%. And blood sugar levels of 120 are not at all uncommon in people, especially non-diabetic. And worse in people with diabetes. When eating a hefty sweet meal, your blood sugar rises easily up to 130 by only one meal.

It takes very, very long for the body to get rid of the sugar in your body. It is known that it takes up to 6 hours before you get your immune system to work again normally after your blood sugar levels rise.

What does that mean? Exactly what you are thinking: Our body has not finished with one “sugary meal” before it gets another one, and it is not done with that one and we give it yet another one.

Do you get it? This is a vicious cycle that keeps our immune system unable to reach its full potential and do what it is supposed to do.

You might ask if sugar affects the immune system as well if you take vitamin C supplements. I am sure it can aid it in preventing the immune system from going too slow, but sugar still blocks the immune system even if there is enough vitamin C present.

Therefore, eating sugar is not at all good for your immune system. Your system wants to be healthy and protect you from danger, but it cannot do that because of the presence of too much sugar and too little vitamin C.

Drinking lots of orange juice is not the solution to the problem. Yes, orange juice has a good number of vitamin C, but it also has much natural sugar, which ultimately goes into your body when you drink it and your glucose levels are getting up by drinking orange juice.

Then what are we supposed to do if nothing helps? It is simple, your glucose levels cannot rise that high by natural sugars when you eat the whole fruit instead of just juice. The whole fruit, in this case, the orange, is rich in fiber, which is good and helps prevent the high glucose levels in the body.

Instead of drinking a cup of orange juice, eat 2 oranges. That will do your body much more good than drinking the sweet stuff. Besides, store-bought juices are commonly high in sugar, although it says they are 100% natural. Read the ingredients and you will likely find sugar as one of the main ingredients in the list.

And it has to be made clear that the immune blocking is done by all kinds of sugar, be in natural fruit sugar, cane sugars, honey, sweeteners, etc. Stay away from sweets as much as possible.

Although your body needs sugar, it should get it only from natural sugars like in fruit, and again, this should not be in juices, because it is highly concentrated and you miss all the fiber that helps break it down effectively.

(If you want to know how to interpret the ingredients list on any given product, please click here.)

What can we learn from this?

There are a few things that we can take with us from the information that I presented above.

Sugar blocks our immune system every time we eat it. Depending on how much sugar there was in the meal, it can take up to six hours of reducing the immune’s system ability to fight infections and diseases.

If it takes so long until the immune system is able to work again properly, what happens in those long winter months when many of us are suffering from the annoying cold, cough, flu, fever, headaches, and so on? What are we feeding on during the Christmas season? Aren’t we feeding on sugar and sweets like we usually don’t do at other times of the year?

That explains why we can hardly recover from the cold and it comes back shortly after we think it is over. Our immune system is blocked and our body just does not find its way out of this predicament.

We all know that the cold weather brings along lots of things that affect our body. We have all felt the discomfort of it.

Cutting out sugar in your diet might be frightening, but think of the consequences of feeding on sweets.

Let me share my experience with you. In September 2017, I cut sugar and flour out of my diet. I prepare most of my meals at home and only go to restaurants where I can order things that will not have it. Let me make this clear, in the past 5 months I have had a dessert here and there, and have also been drinking a little juice here and there. However, I have stayed “clean” for most of the time, which would roughly be a 95%+ of all the meals that I have had.

During these months I have not had a single cold, as I would always have in the winter months. I have not been sick at all. I feel well and healthy.

I do not promise you a winter free from the flu if you cut out sugar, but I am very sure that my body has been able to fight the infections properly by taking vitamin C supplements (which I have taken for years) and cutting out sugar.  You can try the same and see what results you get.

Here is my #1 recommendation for Vitamin C supplements. Raw organic Vitamin C.

Why not give it a try: Cut out sugar and sweets out of your diet, take vitamin C and see what happens to your immune system.

Read about how sugar affects your body.

There are so many other reasons to stay away from sugar.

  • Sugar causes resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes.
  • Sugar and body inflammation go hand in hand.
  • It feeds the carcinogenic cells, enough reason to stay away from it.
  • It causes liver disease.
  • Not to mention weight problems.
  • and many more.

 

If you found this article informative and helpful, please leave a comment or question below. It is my goal to make people understand the risk of consuming refined sugars and see that as a solution to many health issues that we are facing in our world today.

Wishing you success as you cut our sugars of your meals,

Oscar

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20 Comments Add yours
  1. I have had fatty liver for over 5 years and I was just thinking about cutting out sugar out of my diet on top of eating more fish and chicken. Just the usual health stuff.

    With respect to cutting out sugar though, did you do it in small phases or did you do it cold turkey?

    1. Hi.  Yes, indeed, fatty liver disease is in many cases caused by sugar.  I highly recommend that you cut out sugar completely out of your meals and see what happens.

      I did it “cold turkey”.  I decided to do it at once.  No because of any health issues that I am aware of, but just to prevent other things.  Plus, I am trying to lose weight.  And it has helped incredibly.  I think it is the best thing to do – not little by little.  At once.  But you have to get rid of things in your house first.  If they are there or your family does use it, you will not be successful.  Because sugar is so highly addictive, it takes some time until your cravings for sugar go away.

      Wish you luck.  Please come back and tell me about your success.

      Oscar

  2. Sugar is extremely hard to quit because so much packaged food has sugar in it, eating clean and natural takes determination and a schedule of meals which make not eating sweets bareable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted by cakes and chocolate that I’ve been in a bad mood for the rest of the day, however I’m glad I had the willpower to resist. Thanks for the great article:)

    1. Hi. Eating sweets takes determination. However, once you pass the first few crucial weeks until you get over the addiction, I can assure you that it is easier after that. I think I will never go back to my old habits of eating sugar and sweets as much as I always did. And yes, willpower is asked.

      Oscar

  3. Very interesting article.

    I cut sugar from my diet around 20 years ago and I can attest that it really is addictive. The first days after I cut it were extremely hard, my body was strongly fighting against my decision and trying to make me go back to my old habits.

    I’m glad I stuck to the plan. After a couple of months, I didn’t feel like eating sugar as much and everything got much easier.

    My body got slimmer, my health got better, and I feel in a much greater shape now than I did 20 years ago.

    Thanks for such great information.

    1. Yes, sugar is addictive and you do not notice that until you give it up.  It took me 14 days until I was able to say that it didn’t appeal to me anymore.  My wife took around 6 weeks until she was “free” from the addiction.  

      My body has slimmed down amazingly and I feel so much better than I did before.  Never realized that sugar makes you tired, weary, and unhappy.

      I love to hear about people who have experienced it.  I do have a question.  If you have been off for 20 years – does that mean that you never had any sweets anymore, or just here and there a little.  That would be interesting to know.

      Thanks,

      Oscar

  4. Thank you fro writing this article, My kids will not listen to me about the effects of sugar. I tell them your pancreas is only going to produce so much insulin and when it’s done, it’s done. If we could get doctors and the news medias to relay the detrimental effects sugar has our bodies, then we might make progress in what is available in schools and grocery stores. I knew sugar was bad for us but I didn’t put the puzzle together with the vitamin c. Thank you, I look forward to reading more of your articles

    1. Hi, you are so right.  Telling kids to eat healthy is not effective.  They need to see it in adults and change their behaviors toward foods.  The food industry has changed lots of views and we are nowadays full of ideas that are not right about foods.  I do hope the next generation will be more aware of the negative effects of sugar and be able to ditch it.

      I am glad to help.  Happy you found this informative,

      Oscar

  5. Excellent expose’ on sugar intake’s effect on the immune system. I’ve written several articles citing many different tips for wellness applications that encourage removing or at least limiting sugar consumption. Here’s a parallel, you wouldn’t put sugar in your car’s carburetor. Try it and see how your car runs(it won’t for long). So, when we can see that it inhibits bodily function in similar ways that should be a clue.

    Thanks for this post, Brad

    1. You are so right. Refined sugar was not meant for the human race. It is simply not our food. Since it is so highly addicting, we never realize how important it is to not eat it. I like the metaphor that you used with the car.

      Thanks,
      Oscar

  6. Hi I like your article and it is something I didn’t know. That sugar has so many bad side affects to the body. I will definitely think about cutting down on my sugar intake, thanks for this post.

    1. Hi. I am so glad you learned something new through my article. Please consider cutting sugar intake and not only reducing it, going sugarless for a few weeks and see what difference it will make.
      Please come back to share your results,
      Oscar

  7. Hello.
    Thank you a lot. I eat sugar every day and your article will affect on me, and I will 100% start thinking about my health. Great website. I will fallow your site from now.

    1. I am happy to help! Definitely, considering to cut out sugar from your food is worth thinking about and not only thinking about, doing something about it. It if definitely not a good thing to eat sweets every day, when you consider all the problems that come with it.

      Thanks,
      Oscar

  8. hey, that was such informative article. I think people who are addicted to sugar or suffering from diabetes must read this article. I like the way you explained the mechanism of the immune system and its relation with sugar. I didn’t know that orange could be a healthy alternative to sugar. thanks for that. Do you know any other fruits that could be used as an alternative to sugar?

    1. Hi, I am glad you liked it. Please feel free to share it with friends on facebook so more people can read about it.

      You know, all fruit contains sugar, so you can use any fruit for sugar. There are sweeter fruits and the ones that are higher in sugar. Living on fruit alone is not right, because of the high amount of natural sugar. The important thing is to eat your fruit whole and not just the juice. You eliminate all the good stuff like fiber from it if you juice it.

      I love to eat my oatmeal with bananas and no sugar nor sweetener at all. The banana does the trick for me! And you could use other fruit for the same purpose.

      Hope this helps,
      Oscar

  9. Great post and thanks for all the great info on cutting out sugar. It has been a struggle for me, but losing weight and finding clarity, alertness, and sleeping better feel so much healthier than the alternative. It was an eye-opener once I started checking nutrition labels, but worth the effort, after all.

    1. I absolutely agree with you! There is so much to your health when eating sugar. It is not easy, but it is worth it. When you feel better, not so tired, happier and what else, you can live without sugar because you see all the good things that happen to you. That is what keeps me motivated on staying true to the cause.

      Oscar

  10. I agree that taking sugar out of your diet is hard but there are some people who are compelled to do it because of health reasons. It is bad for our health and highly addictive.

    I have been going sugar-free for quite a while because I am Pre Diabetic. I want to avoid medication so I have changed my diet and it is still a fight but I am winning.
    Sugar blocks the immune system and the bad thing about it is that other things break down into sugar also.

    I have learned a lot from reading this article, It is very helpful.

    1. Sugar is highly addictive. Only after you take it out of your food, you realize how addictive it is. Since I grew up with sugar on a daily basis, I never thought that it could be such a problem. I only found that out recently. However, I am very happy that I have done it! I think there no way back.

      I cannot believe that I could really do it. Many people have been wondering how it was possible. Most people claim that it is impossible. But I am proof that it works.

      When you find out about health issues that you are facing, it is easier to stick to it, because you know what is waiting for you if you don’t change a thing.

      I am so glad you learned something from this article.

      Oscar

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