Does Sugar Affect the Immune System?

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The Overconsumption of American Sugar

  • It may shock you to learn that the average American eats up to three pounds of sugar every week. That's the equivalent of three full bags of the stuff. Of course, few people actually go through that much actual table sugar, but it is found in almost all of the processed foods we eat. This is how it adds up so quickly. One wonders of the effects of this processed sugar on our bodies. Consider this: In the late 19th and early 20 centuries, Americans consumed only about five pounds of sugar a year. And the term "cancer" was hardly known back then.

An Assault on the Immune System

  • More so than causing any particular disease, sugar has a dreadful impact on the building blocks of our immune systems. Let's take a look at how this is true. Vitamin C is the most important food supplement our bodies require for the proper health and production of white blood cells. White blood cells are the body's disease fighters. Because these cells need such a high concentration of Vitamin C to effectively combat viruses, we have long been instructed to take supplements of the vitamin to fight off the common cold. It so happens that sugar (in the form of glucose) and Vitamin C are absorbed by white blood cells in the exact same way. It probably goes without saying that Americans do not consume anywhere near three pounds worth of Vitamin C each week (nor would it be recommended). This means that glucose, rather than Vitamin C, finds its way into the cells and leaves the vitamin roaming about without a home. It also leaves the white blood cells wholly unprepared to fight off viruses and bacteria. Sugar in a car's gas tank causes it not to run. It has the same effect on the body's immune system.

Beyond the Immune System

  • Unfortunately, sugar poses unique health risks. Beyond the dangers to the immune system, the constant intake of refined sugar can actually cause illnesses and conditions that make life much less pleasant. One of the common ailments attributed to the overconsumption of sugar is diabetes. So much sugar intake can interfere with the body's ability to correctly produce insulin. An improper amount of sugar can also commonly lead to mood swings as a person becomes dependent on the sugar rush to function normally and maintain a sense of well being. In that respect, sugar can become an addiction and almost a drug. Finally, sugar has been linked to heart disease and obesity.

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