Sugar and Immunity?
During our COVID stay at home lockdown time it can be easier than ever to eat more sweets and treats or comfort foods around the house. We all know too much sugar is not good for us but what exactly is important to know about sugar, how much is okay to eat and HOW does it affect your immunity?
Sugar has been blamed for many things from diabetes, hyperactivity in children, and autoimmune problems to acne. The real key is how much you consume.
Many names for sugar exist – some may be but are not limited to sucrose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, mannitol, sorbitol, molasses, monosaccharides, polysaccharides, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, or high fructose corn syrup. If the product contains any of these, it could be a high sugar product.
Since American culture is accustomed to high levels of sweetness, many of our foods have additional sugar added. This includes anything from small yogurts to salad dressings, and many other foods you may be eating on a regular basis. Many fat-free and low fat products have sugar added, causing them to become basically high sugar products. The following list reveals foods that can have sugars or hidden sugars you may not be aware of:
- flavored, sweetened yogurts
- condiments, such as ketchup, barbeque sauce or other sauces
- relish – sweet pickle
- any low fat or fat-free product
- salad dressings
- smoothie drinks
- canned or bottled tomato sauces
- pre-made deli case salads or entrees
- teriyaki sauce
- frozen vegetables and entrees
- canned fruits – in syrups
- specialty waters and drinks (coffee, tea)
- processed meats
The American Heart Association guidelines suggest limiting sugar intake to no more than 100 calories per day for woman and 150 calories for men. This translates to no more than 5-8 teaspoons of sugar per day. On a label 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams of sugar so the label limit is 20-32 grams of sugar per day.
To put this concept in real life terms, a 12 ounce can of soda has 40 grams of sugar which is over the recommended level. If you look at the labels of foods you normally eat, you will be able to monitor how much sugar you are consuming.
Although sugar is not the culprit for many of the adverse affects it has been blamed for it is still a concern for your health. A high sugar diet can increase all types of inflammation in the body which can lead to many health-related problems. If you are consuming increased amounts of sugar in any form, your body produces high amounts of insulin, leading to fluctuation in blood sugars and fatigue.
Sugar also significantly lowers the immune system, leading to increased risk of viruses of any kind from colds and flues to more serious ones such as COVID. Protecting our immunity is more important than ever.
So keep to the limits if you want to have good energy, maintain your health and avoid illness during this challenging season. Your body and immune system will thank you!