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How Does Sugar Affect Your Immune System?

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Uncategorized

Trainer holding a stopwatch while his client is working out on an exercise machine.

In the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, understanding the connection between sugar and the immune system is important.


Excessive sugar intake has been linked to a compromised immune response, making our bodies susceptible to illnesses. Understanding this link empowers us to make informed choices for optimal immune defense.

Below, we’ll help you understand how sugar influences our immune system, shine a light on some “healthy” foods that actually contain added refined sugar, and highlight some of the ways exercise can help regulate blood sugar and reduce your sugar cravings.

The Sugar-Immune System Relationship

Sugar, especially the refined kind found in many processed foods, has been linked to various health issues, including a compromised immune system. 

Consuming foods with high levels of added sugars can substantially elevate blood sugar levels, leading to an increase in the production of inflammatory proteins such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These proteins have adverse effects on immune function.

Since excessive sugar consumption can suppress immune function, your body is more susceptible to viruses, infections, and illnesses.

While some foods and beverages that have high added sugar content are easy to spot (ie- desserts and soda), there are several offenders that are not so easy to spot. 

Sneaky Sources of Added Sugar

Believe it or not, many seemingly healthy foods are riddled with refined sugars. 

Your favorite yogurt may just be a sugar bomb, and that multigrain bread you always buy could be a silent contributor to your sugar intake so it’s imperative to check nutrition labels and read ingredients. 

There are many packaged breads, salad dressings, condiments, meats, sauces, and beverages that are marketed as healthy alternatives—yet, they may contribute to your daily sugar intake without you even realizing it. 

Small Steps to Control Your Sugar Consumption

Awareness of hidden sugars in your diet is one of the best methods for making smarter food and beverage choices.

Reading product labels before you make a purchase is one of the first steps toward reducing your sugar intake and pursuing a healthier lifestyle. If you see high levels of sugar in that “low-calorie” dressing, you can put that bottle back on the shelf and search for a healthier alternative. 

Since many processed foods such as cereal, sauces, dressings, breads, etc are made with high levels of sugar. Avoid filling your shopping cart with these product options and choose whole, unprocessed foods instead. 

Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are nutrient-rich alternatives without the added sugars.

If you are currently using sugar or artificial sweeteners to flavor your coffee, tea, or cereal, make the switch to natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. When used in moderation, these substitutes can be more beneficial to your health than sugar and artificial sweeteners and they don’t wreck havoc on your gut like refined sugar does. 

Additionally, you can swap sugary snacks for healthier alternatives, such as an apple and nut butter, hummus and carrot sticks, or plain Greek yogurt with a little honey and fresh berries to satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your immune and gut health. 

And if you want to indulge in a little treat, try to do so after a nutrient-dense, protein-rich meal. This will dramatically reduce the blood sugar spike many people experience after a high-carb/sugar food. If you don’t have control over the ingredients, you can at least control when the food is consumed. It’s not so much the dessert after a hearty meal that’s the problem; it’s the sugar on an empty stomach that can really make or break your metabolic health.

Exercise and Blood Sugar Regulation

Beyond a balanced diet, exercise plays a pivotal role in regulating blood sugar levels and reducing sugar cravings. 

Loyalty Fitness stands by its science-backed methods, including the super slow weight training technique.

Super slow weight training involves performing resistance exercises at an intentionally slow pace, typically taking about 10 seconds for both the lifting and lowering phases of each repetition. 

While there is some evidence to suggest that regular exercise, including resistance training, can have positive effects on blood sugar regulation and the immune system, the specific results can vary from individual to individual.

Here are some general ways in which regular exercise, including super slow weight training, may contribute to blood sugar regulation and immune system support:

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Exercise, including resistance training, can enhance insulin sensitivity. This means that the body’s cells become more responsive to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.

Improved insulin sensitivity can help prevent or manage conditions like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which are characterized by impaired blood sugar regulation.

Skeletal Muscle Glucose Uptake

Muscle contractions during resistance training can increase the uptake of glucose by muscle cells, helping to lower blood sugar levels.This effect is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.

Body Composition and Metabolism

Super slow weight training can contribute to improvements in body composition by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat.

Maintaining a healthy body composition is associated with better metabolic health and may positively influence blood sugar levels.

Stress Reduction

Regular exercise, including super slow weight training, has been shown to reduce stress levels.

Chronic stress can negatively impact blood sugar regulation and weaken the immune system. By managing stress, exercise indirectly supports these physiological processes.

Virtual Personal Training for a Sugar-Smart Lifestyle

Even if you can’t make it to our Greenwich, CT, or Syosset, NY locations, our online virtual personal training sessions bring expert guidance to your home. Tailored workouts, coupled with nutritional advice, can help you stay on track with your fitness goals while making informed choices about sugar intake.

However, it’s important to note that individual responses to exercise can vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional or fitness expert, such as our certified trainers, before starting any new exercise program is advisable, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

Maintain Your Health and Stay Informed with Loyalty Fitness 

Understanding the impact of sugar on your immune system is a vital aspect of achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle. 

At Loyalty Fitness, we’re committed to guiding you not only in your fitness journey but also in making informed nutrition and lifestyle choices that support your overall well-being. 

Contact us today to see how our personal training and nutrition coaching services can help you enjoy a healthier, happier lifestyle! 

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