By now, it's abundantly clear added sugars can wreak havoc on your body, from your skin to your waistline. So, it shouldn't come as a major surprise that the ingredient can also suppress your immune system.
According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications led by scientists at Swansea University's Medical School, University of Bristol, and the Francis Clark Institute in London, a diet high in fructose may hinder immune function. Fructose is a type of sugar that's typically found in soda, sweets, and processed foods. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).
More specifically, the study revealed that fructose can cause the immune system to become inflamed and this process can then produce more reactive molecules that are associated with inflammation. While this new research may contribute to a deeper understanding of how excess fructose consumption might give rise to chronic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, it's surely not the first time sugar has been under fire for stoking inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is a natural biological response to a foreign body or intruder, which could range from a splinter to a pathogen found in a virus. In order to promote healing, the body then releases an inflammatory response to attack it. However, when the body is continuously producing inflammation, this is when problems can begin to arise. As Sydney Greene, MS, RD previously explained to Eat This, Not That!, this can lead to myriad health issues if not addressed.
"Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism and plays a role in the healing process," she said. "Chronic inflammation has been shown to play a role in various diseases such as diabetes, allergies, and cardiovascular disease."
So, what's one way you can potentially reduce inflammation in your own body as soon as today? Cut back your intake of fructose and processed foods.
"Processed foods, with their high sugar levels, omega-6 fatty acids, excess sodium, and junky additives, can stoke the fire of inflammation," Greene said. "When inflammation is high, it taxes the immune system leaving us more susceptible to disease and illness."
For more, be sure to check out 7 Habits That Are Hurting Your Immune System, According to Harvard.