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For many people, the scariest thing about approaching winter isn’t the thought of pulling out your snow boots and braving the increasingly freezing weather: it’s the return of cold and flu season. While washing your hands thoroughly, avoiding crowds, and avoiding anyone you know to be sick can all help reduce your risk of falling with something, these steps may not be enough to keep you safe. In fact, many of your eating habits could be damaging your immune health, making it harder for you to fend off those nasty, circulating insects.

If you want to protect yourself, read on to discover eating habits to avoid for a healthier immune system, according to experts. And for more ways to improve your overall health, check out the 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat right now.

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They say strain is the spice of life, and it happens to be one of the best ways to boost your immune system, too. In reality, Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, CLT, says a lack of diversity on your plate could cripple your immune health.

“If you eat the same thing over and over again, it could be damaging your immune health. With 70% of your immune system in your gut, you want to look to your gut to strengthen your immune system. a gut microbiome that contains a healthy variety of bacteria, which means you have to feed these gut insects different types of food, ”Sauceda explains. “An easy way to get variety is to eat different colored fruits and vegetables and foods from all food groups. “

RELATED: Popular foods that improve your gut health, according to science

american woman eating vegetable salad at home

If you deprive the beneficial bacteria in your gut of adequate prebiotic fiber, you could be damaging your gut health along the way.

“Prebiotics are the fuel for probiotics (the good bacteria in our gut),” says Kara Landau, RD, dietitian expert in intestinal health and founder of Uplift Food. “A diet devoid of prebiotics starves our gut bacteria, causing a lack of diversity within the microbiome. Poor gut health, in turn, increases inflammatory markers in our body and decreases the immune response.” If you’re looking to increase your microbiome, be sure to check out these dietitian-approved ways to get more prebiotics in your diet.

blonde woman eating cookie and reading
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While virtually everyone indulges in their cravings for sweet treats or fried foods from time to time, eating too much sugar and fat can have a profoundly negative effect on your immune system.

“A poor diet can overload the immune system and lead to a pro-inflammatory state. This inflammation is linked to a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. high in refined sugar, high in saturated fat and low in fiber can lead to this inflammation, ”explains Sheetal DeCaria MD, integrating physician and wellness expert at Revitalize Medical Center.

RELATED: Best Eating Habits To Boost Your Immune System, Says Dietitian

Person in blue button eating from bag of crisps
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However, it’s not just the sugar and fat content of your foods that can negatively affect your immune health. Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, of Balance One Supplements, says packaged food products loaded with additives can have a similar effect.

“Processed foods are those made from refined carbohydrates, stabilizers, emulsifiers and other ingredients to improve shelf stability, flavor and texture,” explains Best. “When we eat foods like this in large amounts, they can irritate the gut, cause an imbalance of gut bacteria and ultimately lead to chronic inflammation of low intensity. This inflammation can reduce the body’s proper immune response and result in an increase in chronic diseases. “

The disgruntled young woman does not want to eat her breakfast

While limiting your calorie intake can help you lose weight, it can also have a damaging effect on your immune system.

“With any calorie restriction, the body’s metabolic rate decreases in efforts to conserve energy for vital processes. In doing so, processes like immune support decrease,” says Rachel Fine, RDN, owner of To The Pointe Nutrition. “One of these reasons is the body’s inability to effectively absorb specific immune-boosting micronutrients, such as vitamins A and E, both of which require adequate body fat stores for absorption, storage and use, ”Fine adds.

If you want to give your immune system a boost, check out these Drinking Habits Experts Say Boost Your Immunity, and for the latest healthy living news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!