Following a good diet for health and wellness is more important today than ever before. We have all heard of the ill effects of consuming sugar. But, with a raging pandemic, controlling sugar intake is one aspect of your diet that needs attention. A study conducted by the Ball State University showed that 31% of 838 participants resorted to unhealthy stress eating patterns to cope with the situation. And, most of them struggled with controlling their sugar consumption.
So, why should you pay attention to sugar in particular when you are eating for health during the Covid-19 times.
Sugar Affects Immunity Severely
If there is one thing we all need right now, it is the full strength of our immune system. As we all know by now, our eating habits directly affect our body’s ability to combat diseases. Sugar especially has several negative effects on our immune system:
It Causes Sugar Lethargy
Diet health foods that are low in sugar can reduce the chances of sugar lethargy in the cells. Studies show that when you consume foods that are very high in their sugar content, the ability of the cells of the immune system to ward off pathogens reduces temporarily. This effect starts within 30 minutes of consuming sugar. It lasts for as long as 5 hours. This means that you are vulnerable to an infection for long stretches of time if you have the habit of eating sweet foods more than twice a day. During this period, the body is unable to even combat some bacterial strains. So you can imagine how defenseless it becomes with a virus that is mutating so rapidly.
The Bacterial Balance in The Body is Compromised
A healthy gut is very important for normal functioning of the immune system. This is another good reason to start eating for health. Our digestive tract is home to different types of bacteria, out of which 85% are actually helping us digest food better. However, when you regularly consume sugar, the colonies of the harmful bacteria in the gut begin to increase. This disturbs the balance in the digestive tract, leading to several issues. With digestion not being optimum, even the ability of our white blood cells to ward off threats and infections reduces immensely.
The Body Develops Insulin Resistance
A good diet for health must exclude excessive sugar intake, especially refined sugars. Processed foods contain corn syrup which is high in fructose. These kinds of refined sugars cause insulin resistance in the body. This means that the blood sugar is not effectively absorbed by the cells to use as energy. The immediate reaction of the body is to engage the immune system to increase insulin production. With the immune system actively working on ensuring that the cells are able to receive more insulin, it is not focused on the incoming pathogens. This is why it is best that you avoid sugary items that add no nutritional value to the body.
Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes
We have read articles and seen so many programs in the recent past talking about the threat of coronavirus infection in people who have comorbidities like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. According to experts, when you have diabetes, you are more prone to contracting the virus. You also become vulnerable to life-threatening infections. Studies show that when the sugar content in your system is higher, the chances of getting infected also increase. Sugar tends to cause inflammation in the body which leads to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. You also gain weight faster, especially with reduced activity levels in the current times. This increases cholesterol levels in the body, increasing the chances of heart attacks and other serious health issues.
How To Reduce Sugar Intake
Undoubtedly, high sugar consumption is our response to stress. With so many issues like a crashing economy and the panic of the pandemic itself, following a diet for health seems like a huge challenge. However, you can make small modifications in your lifestyle and diet that can help you immensely:
- Replace sugary beverages with fresh juices.
- Include fiber rich diet healthy foods so that you feel satiated for longer and do not feel sugar cravings.
- Make sure you have a fixed eating schedule
- Try activities like breathing or yoga to reduce stress and stress induced eating
- Avoid eating processed foods
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fruits are a great way to combat sugar cravings.
- Include indulgent foods like chocolate in your diet, but with strict restrictions. This also helps you keep stress at bay.
- Exercise and physical activity increases the levels of happy hormones in your body.
The Covid-19 pandemic has posed incredible challenges to people across the globe. While we continue to live in uncertain times, the one thing we can do is eat for health and avoid unwanted health issues.