By reducing sugar consumption, you can be less susceptible to COVID-19. (Los Angeles Times)
Mater Dei High School

Opinion: Reducing sugar consumption boosts your immune system

An alarm clock breaks the early morning silence. Frank Sapplin, a 33-year-old nurse, drowsily climbs out of bed. For the past month, he has had to sacrifice his sleep and make a one hour commute to the nearest hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.

Frank sees this as an ordinary morning as he lumbers into the kitchen for breakfast. He throws a strawberry pastry into his toaster, waits a minute or two, and then voraciously consumes it. Once he finishes breakfast, Frank makes his lunch: two sodas, a candy bar and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Zipping up his lunch pail and walking to his front door, he has a sudden feeling of nausea.

Dashing to the bathroom, Frank locates a bottle of Advil, quickly pops a few into his mouth, then rushes to his car. A few days later, Frank contracts the coronavirus and is admitted to the hospital for treatment. What Frank doesn’t realize is that his ability, or inability, to fight off viruses is closely tied to the amount of sugar he consumes.

The primary issue with all sugar is that it lowers the immune system, causing a cascade of branching potential health-related diseases known as comorbidities. When considering that processed sugar has no nutritional value, and it is added just to make food taste better, we must take into consideration all the harmful consequences that sugar has been known to produce.

According to WebMD, eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells, which its effect lasts for “at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks.” By choosing to consume that quick sugary snack or drink, we unknowingly further expose ourselves to sickness for an extensive period of time.

The reason why sugar lowers our immune system has been repeatedly tested and researched over the past decade. According to Chris Kresser, an expert in Functional Medicine, he has analyzed many of the prominent studies regarding sugar intake and has determined that sugar consumption causes “the growth of harmful gut bacteria and promotes an inflammatory gut microbiota.” The inflamed microbiota negatively influences the balance of our immune system compromising other body systems and increasing the risk associated with contracting the coronavirus. 

When we give in to refined sugars, our compromised immune system gives way to the onset of many widespread issues. Evidence, according to the Mayo Clinic, suggests there’s a relationship between “added sugars and obesity, diabetes and heart disease.” 

Consuming processed sugars on a daily basis impedes the body from regulating and healing itself. Avoiding refined sugars allows the body to increase the supply of white blood cells and regulatory cells that help prevent the body from catching an illness. Processed sugars within foods have plagued the industrialized world with a self-inflicted pandemic of diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, which have been occurring for the past 100 years and continues to this day. 

Especially in the chaotic world that we currently live in, it is paramount that we consider the best ways to remain healthy and to end the pandemic. Although many people may not think of their diet as a necessary lifestyle change, the COVID-19 virus attacks the same people who would generally fall ill due to a lowered immune system.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a new study found that 94% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had chronic health issues prior to contracting the virus. To circumvent the plethora of issues that arise from processed sugars and to evade the grasp of the coronavirus, eliminating or reducing sugar intake may be the single best way to keep oneself healthy.

Furthermore, as reported by Dr. Mark Hyman, a renowned physician and expert on human wellness, limiting the amount of starch and sugar you consume improves the function of your immune system and your overall health.

By avoiding the lure of sugary food, all people can experience a more healthy lifestyle and decrease the chance of becoming ill. 

Despite being isolated at home and experiencing less social activity, we must still remain attentive to what we consume and how it affects one’s body. Although it may be exciting to bake tasty desserts and sugary foods, in reality, they are only doing our body harm. There are natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia, which are both great alternatives to refined sugar.

Consumption of any processed sugars can produce a multitude of health issues that only prevent oneself from maintaining good health. When considering current times, we must realize that sugar consumption will only increase the chance of people contracting COVID-19 and undergoing the worst of the symptoms.

As more people become aware of the negative effects of sugar and its ability to lower one’s immunity, future pandemics and new illnesses will have much less of a negative impact on society. The change will result in a significant improvement in the general well-being of the world’s population and help suppress the chance of another widespread pandemic.