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As you may already know, the immune system or the body’s cellular defence wards off all the potential infections in the body and keeps it healthy. However, the immune system faces a lot of challenges to maintain its optimum function. A lot of these hurdles come from the consumption of certain food groups. Surprisingly, there is a wide range of foods that can cause damage to the immune system, rather than providing nourishment. 

Fast food hits your immune system like an illness

Ever wondered if the burgers you feast on cause any damage to your body, apart from adding on a few extra pounds? Well, research states that eating fast food on a regular basis can reprogram your immune system! It can alter the way it functions and puts it in a constant state of ‘high alert’. Moreover, the immune system continues to stay that way for a prolonged period even after switching to healthy food. 

Foods with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

Eating foods containing MSG can cause harmful changes to your thymus and spleen, both of which form a vital part of the immune system. MSG can disrupt their ability to produce immune cells and alter the levels of interleukin, which is a molecule that helps in the immune response. But don’t be alarmed because these changes are irreversible and merely require you to cut off MSG from your diet.

Alcohol can affect your immune system

Alcohol can reduce the function of your macrophages (the cells that break down foreign invaders), alter the levels of immunoglobulin and cytokine, and impair the production of T cells and B cells, both of which act as first responders in the body.

Caffeine can decrease your immune system’s ability

Cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, alters your metabolism and mood, and it can also lower your immune function. Regular consumption of caffeine can suppress the function of all the important immune cells. However, if you’re not willing to give up on your beloved cup of coffee, drink in moderation. Alternatively, you can consider switching to lower-caffeine beverages, like tea.

Sugary snacks and soda

While we know the gist, most of us wonder how sugar affects the immune system. Sugar competes for space with vitamin C, a core nutrient for your immune cells. The more sugar in your system, the harder it is for your immune cells to function and this effect lasts for hours after you consume sugar. Completely cutting off sugary snacks and baked goods is a sure-fire way to boost your immune system. If you still crave a sweet treat, go for a natural sweetener like probiotic-rich honey.

Foods containing gluten

Gluten, a protein found naturally in certain grains such as wheat and barley, is extremely difficult to digest. It causes harm by triggering the production of a protein called Zonulin, which breaks down the cells of your intestinal walls. This in turn allows toxic particles and other harmful substances to enter your bloodstream.

Refined oils can harm your immunity

Foods cooked in refined oils are notorious to produce free radicals that damage your tissues and put your body through inflammation. Most refined oils are stripped off their nutrients during the refinement process and hence contribute to zero nutritional value. Switch to cold-pressed oils wherever you can.  Certain oils like coconut oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil are less likely to cause immune issues.


A lot of what you eat can have a direct impact on your immune system. It is imperative that your immune system remains fully prepared to fight if a situation arises. This can only be possible if it receives all the necessary nutrients for its proper functioning. The least you can do is to not cause any damage by avoiding all the foods that can potentially weaken it in the long run. The next time you pass by your favourite burger chain, think about what foods weaken the immune system before placing an order. Or, better yet – make your own healthy alternative. 🙂 

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