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Whats New

November 29, 2021 - Carbohydrate Nutrition News

Sugars and the Immune System: A Review of the Evidence

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and flu season approaching, maintaining a well-functioning immune system is critical in helping our bodies defend against infections and illnesses while staying healthy.  

The dietitians and nutrition scientists at the Canadian Sugar Institute perform regular reviews of the literature related to sugars and relevant health topics to develop website content based on the highest level of evidence. We are pleased to share new content discussing the current research on Sugars and Immune Function, with a focus on how the foods we eat and different dietary components, including sugars, may impact our body’s immune system. 

Key learnings include:

  • The immune system uses glucose as a key source of energy. In healthy individuals, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by many factors. However, either low or high levels of blood glucose can become harmful to the immune system.  
  • While media articles often suggest a link between sugars consumption and impaired immune function, available scientific evidence does not support such a claim. 
  • Eating a range of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein sources, and healthy fats, can help ensure intake of adequate energy and essential nutrients needed to support optimal immune function. 
  • More research is needed to better understand the potential role of sugars as one component of an overall eating pattern on immune function. 

The content has been reviewed by a leading expert in the field Professor Philip Calder (Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton), who will also be talking about Nutrition, Immunity and COVID-19 at the upcoming Canadian Nutrition Society Thematic Conference 2022: Advances in Nutrition & Immune Function (January 22, 2022). 

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