We are used to considering the many avenues that disease takes to get to our systems. Through water supplies, the air, or via touched surfaces, we have a firm understanding of the many ways that diseases will spread through a population. We also understand the ways that chronic illnesses develop – heart disease and other issues that are internal. But many people don’t understand that our diet can affect how readily a disease attacks our immune systems almost as much as nutrition affects the general health of our bodies.
Healthy Eating and Chronic Disease
We’ve all seen the food pyramid (which has its issues) and understand in general that healthy eating is good for us. Much has been written about the particulars of how a healthy diet affects your body, but it’s worth mentioning here as well
Sugar, fat, and salt are the most common ingredients in less healthy foods, and a diet high in any one of these presents its own risk for chronic disease.
- Too much salt causes excess fluid retention and can cause high blood pressure
- Too much fat can cause high cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease
- Too much sugar can cause diabetes and heart disease
These three are the causes of a majority of chronic diseases and should be eaten in moderation.
Nutrition and Infectious Disease
We may not expect that our diet can affect our risk for being infected with the flu or other infection, but data suggests that the most important factor in our body’s ability to resist disease is our micronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are used by our bodies in specific ways, each one acting as an important resource for our various systems.
For resisting diseases, supplements like Emergen-C are often said to help boost our immune system. How much vitamin C supplements help is questionable, but many cells in our immune system do rely upon the vitamin. But taking a single supplement isn’t going to prevent any and all disease from getting into your system. Supplements are not a replacement for vaccination. However, maintaining a healthy diet can absolutely help maintain your immune system and help your body fight infection.