Snacking Depresses Your Immune System

February 5, 2010 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Snacking Depresses Your Immune System
German researchers have identified a highly relevant new aspect of immunity1. When you haven't eaten for a while then insulin levels drop and unique genes are activated that directly stimulate the production of powerful antimicrobial peptides, in turn destroying germs by dissolving their cell walls. Conversely, snacking raises insulin which then prevents this aspect of immunity from activating. This is the first time that a powerful immune system mechanism has been directly linked to when you eat.

The immune regulating gene is called FOXO and it is conserved in virtually all animals – meaning that this is a fundamental survival operation of your immune system. It is apparently a preservation system left over from evolution wherein a common problem was not having enough food. This mechanism was used to offer direct immune support in a time of less energy. It specifically is found to help maintain natural balance at points of interface with foreign bacteria (mucosal membranes such as sinuses, lungs, your digestive tract, vaginal, etc).

Rule #2 of the Five Rules of The Leptin Diet is to eat three meals a day and not to snack. This is done to optimize the function of insulin and leptin in response to meals. When you eat more often you are more prone to storing calories as fat. This new study convincingly demonstrates that snacking also disturbs your immune system, reducing its ability to fight off invaders. This is not a trivial immune point. This form of immune defense is active throughout the day when insulin levels decline.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Snacking Interferes with Immunity  Nature   Thomas Becker, Gerrit Loch, Marc Beyer, Ingo Zinke, Anna C. Aschenbrenner, Pilar Carrera, Therese Inhester, Joachim L. Schultze & Michael Hoch.

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