You may have heard that you should keep your blood sugar levels stable to stay healthy. Sometimes we hear so many different things about how to be healthy that some of the information becomes background noise. We get inundated with all kinds of information, and if most of us are honest, some of it doesn’t stick.
When we mention the importance of how blood sugar affects your immune system, we want you to understand how it all comes together. In this article, we break down this complicated topic and help you learn some strategies to keep you healthy.
Before diving into how blood sugar affects your immune function, you need to know what blood sugar is and what role it plays in your body. Blood sugar and blood glucose are terms used interchangeably.
Blood sugar comes from foods. Your body makes sugar when it digests the food you have eaten. Then, the sugar circulates in your bloodstream and gets used for energy. The sugar you do not need for fuel gets stored in your cells for later energy use.
When you get too much sugar in the blood, it can be dangerous. That means you could either have or be getting close to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes that gets left untreated can produce a host of health issues. Some of these problems are kidney disfunction, heart issues, and vision loss. (1)
We have discussed how your body uses food for fuel. When you eat, your body breaks down everything and absorbs it as protein, carbs, fat, and vitamins. That is why you must pay attention to what goes into your body. (2)
Protein and fat don’t contain carbs, so they have little impact on your blood sugar. Vitamins also don’t contain carbs and won’t raise your blood sugar.
Carbohydrates are a huge consideration when keeping blood sugar stable. Carbohydrates turn into sugar when your body absorbs them. Liquid forms of carbohydrates cause a faster blood sugar spike than food because your body can absorb them fast. The exception to carbohydrate absorption is fiber. Since fiber cannot get digested, it cannot get absorbed by the body. Therefore, it will not affect blood sugar.
Now that you know how food gets turned into sugar and used by the body, what does that mean you should do about carbs? Does this mean you need to stay away from all carbs?
If you have problems with your blood sugar, you want to watch your carbohydrate intake. That doesn’t mean you have to stay away from all carbs. Depending on your situation, you may still want to have some healthy carbs in your diet.
Whole foods are always better options than processed foods. Fruits like berries are much lower in sugar than bananas. Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are loaded with nutrients and have fewer carbs than root veggies. When it comes to carbs, you want to watch your portion size. The more carbohydrates you consume, the more sugar you will absorb. (3)
Let’s get to the elephant in the room. Many of us eat way too many processed foods. We shouldn’t even call it food because some of these ingredients aren’t recognizable. When you go to the store and look at the foods you put in your cart, check the ingredient labels. Many of them have tons of things listed that are artificial and harmful.
A piece of fruit has one ingredient and contains loads of healthy vitamins. When you eat things like pasta, sugar-filled candies, and other processed carbs, you get little nutritional value, if any. If you see vitamins listed on the label, that typically means they got added into the food with fillers and other things your body doesn’t want or need.
Fruits and veggies can enhance your immune function because of their vitamin and mineral content. Eating these can also satiate you and keep you at a healthy weight, which is good for your blood sugar. (4)
As shown above, blood sugar can alter your immune system. High blood sugar can play a significant role in atherosclerosis. When your blood sugar rises to an unhealthy level, it changes your adaptive immune response.
Your body has specific changes in your immune cells produced by sugar molecules. The sugary modifications impair the immune function’s ability and weaken cell function. It can also cause your immune system to overreact and create an inflammatory response. (5)
High blood sugar causes your immune system to malfunction. When that happens, it fails to fight off invaders like pathogens and various bacteria.
Your body comes equipped with an immune system that fights off infections. When your blood sugar is high and unstable, it alters your immune function. Now, you have a weakened immune system that cannot adequately protect you from those nasty infections.
Having unstable blood sugar over a sustained period can cause you to be more susceptible to various infections. Those infections can be anything from colds and flu to a cytokine storm. We have all heard about that due to COVID. (6)
Your immune system is a barrier between you and illnesses. When that barrier gets weak, you get left in a position to become sick. When you are sick, it is harder to get well than it is to remain healthy before becoming ill. That is why keeping your immune function at its peak is crucial for keeping infections at bay.
Now that you know how blood sugar affects your immune system, what can you do to keep your immune function strong? When you want to drive down those blood sugar levels, nutrients can help.
Since we know that a high carbohydrate diet can lead to raised blood sugar, it is critical to lower your intake of carbs. You need to focus on a whole-food approach to diet as much as possible. You want to incorporate healthy fats and proteins that will satiate you and provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs. (7)
You also want to get specific nutrients in clinical doses that will get those blood sugar levels down to healthy numbers. Many nutrient combinations can help target insulin sensitivity but getting them one at a time may be confusing. You also won’t know if you can trust the source, and they may not fit into your budget.
Rather than researching and looking for different nutrients to help, you can take quality supplements that provide all the nutrients you need in one pack. The combination of nutrients will provide a synergistic blend of herbs and vitamins to help control your blood sugar levels.
If you are concerned about having high blood sugar and want to control it now, nutrition is your best medicine. You can dramatically reduce your blood sugar by controlling what you put in your body. It also matters what nutrients your body absorbs.
Lowering your blood sugar is not always about using one approach. Health often requires a combination of several different protocols to produce the most effective results. Your immune system is responsible for so much of how you feel every day. Understanding how blood sugar plays a role in immune function will impact how you can change your habits to create positive outcomes for your health.
Natural medicine is always the best choice when possible. There is a time and place for traditional medicines, but they are far overused. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to change your health naturally because we all know true wellness starts with us! You have the tools to help your immune system help you. Get started making healthy habits a part of your daily routine today and check out any of our resources for more help.