There are lots of foods you should eat to strengthen your immune system, including those that are high in Vitamin C.  One important reason is that Vitamin C is used by your white blood cells to destroy viruses and bacteria that invade your body.  When you eat sugar, however, the Vitamin C in your cells in depleted and your body’s ability to fight off infection and disease is reduced by up to 75% for 4 to 6 hours.

It so happens that the receptors in your cells for Vitamin C are the same ones as for glucose.  The cells have a greater affinity for glucose than for Vitamin C, so when sugar levels in your blood are elevated, the cells will absorb the sugar at the expense of Vitamin C.  If you consume sugar often, your cells will continue to be depleted of the Vitamin C they need.

Sugar is also great food for the bad bacteria in your gut and the more sugar they can feed on, the faster they grow.  The growth of bad bacteria in your gut will crowd out the beneficial bacteria, which are the ones that are important for your gut health.  The existence of good bacteria in your gut is critical to reduce inflammation and a healthy gut is directly related to a properly functioning immune system.

In determining what you should and shouldn’t eat, what’s important is to make the distinction between added sugar in processed foods vs natural sugars that are found in whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and grains.  Because these whole foods come with lots of fiber, their natural sugars are absorbed more slowly into your blood stream and the fiber also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  This is all on top of the antioxidants and other nutrients found in the whole foods.  Stay away from sodas and other sugar-laden drinks, cakes, cookies and candy as well as white bread, pasta and rice.   Keep in mind also that a lot of condiments and dairy products like flavored yogurts have a lot of added sugar, as well as packaged cereals and granola bars.  Artificial sweeteners like sucralose are also harmful for your gut health and may interfere with how your body processes sugar.

As we all work to stay healthy and avoid contracting illnesses like the coronavirus or even common colds and flu, what we don’t eat is just as important as what we do for building up our immunity.

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