With fall fast approaching and COVID still a concern in the U.S. and beyond, many people are eager to bolster their immune systems to stay healthy. However, avoiding illness isn’t always just the luck of the draw—many people are inadvertently making themselves more susceptible to illness due to their diet.
If you want to ensure you’re not accidentally putting yourself in harm’s way, read on to discover the worst drinks for immune health, according to dietitians. And if you want to improve your health in a hurry, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Those sugary lattes may give you a quick burst of energy, but they could be doing serious damage to your immune health, too.
“Flavored lattes can be a surprising source of added sugar—some of these drinks can even provide more sugar than a can of soda,” says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, of My Crohn’s and Colitis Team. “Drinking high amounts of sugar can not only add extra calories to the diet but may also negatively impact immune function.”
Klamer says that research suggests that high-sugar diets may also promote inflammation. “A high level of inflammatory markers may increase the risk for some illnesses,” she adds.
Those alcoholic drinks and your less-than-stellar immune function may be more interconnected than you think.
“Alcohol is bad for your immune health because chronic alcohol use can affect your body’s ability to expel germs quickly. In fact, people with alcohol-use disorders may be susceptible to lung immune dysfunction in which the upper airways are unable to clear respiratory pathogens,” says New York-based culinary nutritionist Nicole Stefanow, MS, RDN, citing a 2016 study published in Alcohol. For more incentive to ditch those drinks, check out the Secret Side Effects of Giving Up Alcohol, Say Dietitians.
Soda isn’t just bad for your waistline—it’s bad for your immune health, too.
“Beverages that include added sugars and sodium are harmful to our immune. Both act as an irritant to the system which can cause an inflammatory response. Think about how consuming salt makes you swollen? Our bodies function best on whole, unprocessed food and drinks,” says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center.
If you’re eager to keep your immune system strong, there’s no time like the present to ditch those sugary juices.
“Fruit juice is not ideal for immune health because it’s a big source of sugar, specifically fructose and glucose. Fructose leads to a build-up of fat in our bodies and influences our gut hormones, leaving us feeling more hungry, whereas glucose causes a spike in our blood sugar levels,” explains Bari Stricoff, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Second Nature.
While Stricoff says that many people assume juice is healthy because of its vitamin and mineral content, she notes that these nutrients are easy to find in whole fruits and vegetables without consuming any added sugar. For more great healthy living tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!
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