Fast Food Misconception and How Your Immune System Suffers

Fast Food Misconception and How Your Immune System Suffers

It’s easy to succumb to the overabundance of available processed food that surrounds us. From fast food restaurants to packaged snacks and meals the choices are at every turn.

To make matters more confusing, many of these foods are advertised in a way that makes people actually feel as if they are eating something natural and good for them. Words like ‘organic,’ ‘antioxidants,’ ‘whole grain,’ ‘gluten-free,’ and ‘healthy’ are just some of the terms used to mislead consumers.

Whether you are grabbing way more fast food than you should or eating subpar, processed foods with the misconception that they are healthy choices, you could be weakening your immune system without even knowing it.

Marketing Science

There is no mistake when Cherry 7-Up advertises antioxidants in their soda or Chef Boyardee Beefaroni touts its whole grain pasta. Marketing companies have one thing in mind when labeling food and it’s not your health, it’s their bottom line.

Researchers at the University of Houston studied how marketing terms affect the average consumer.

According to Temple Northup, principal investigator of the study,

“Food marketers are exploiting consumer desires to be healthy by marketing products as nutritious when, in fact, they’re not,”

The study examined something called ‘priming psychology’. These are the calculated words the food industry chooses to propel consumers into purchasing their product.

Northop explains,

“I took a label from Cherry 7-Up Antioxidant and Photoshop it without the word ‘antioxidant’ and only the words, ‘Cherry 7-Up.’ I then asked people via the online survey which one they thought was healthier,…Each time a participant saw one of the triggering words on a label, they would identify it as healthier than the other image without the word. ”

In addition to the study it was also found that many consumers think they know how to read nutrition labels but really don’t. Upon reading labels without knowing the actual product, almost a quarter of those studied chose the unhealthier food.

The Immune System Killer

Processed food is packed with a variety of fillers, preservatives, salts, sugars, dyes and much more. Even those that have minimal ingredients are still weakened from the manufacturing process making them less nutritionally potent.

In a study titled ‘Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity’ published in Nutrition Journal 2014, it was concluded that,

“…there is enough quality, direct human evidence to conclude that many of the dietary choices in today’s modern society appear to have harmful impacts on our immune system and likely on the immune system of our offspring;”

Time magazine reported on the same study stating that,

“…large number of calories in processed and fast food may lead to health problems such as increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.”


The fast food study cites inflammatory markers found when processed foods are broken down.

Some results were:

  • In vitro evidence suggest processed, simple sugars also reduce white blood cell phagocytosis and possibly increase inflammatory cytokine markers in the blood.
  • Animal studies suggest that high salt in the diet might also increase IL-17-mediated inflammation and could worsen autoimmune diseases.
  • The harmful effect of fat is enhancement of the prostaglandin system as it feeds into the arachidonic and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) pathways. PGE2 is pro-inflammatory.

Gut Microbe Weakening

Your gut contains trillions of microorganisms, more than the cells in your body. These microbes are made up of good and bad bacteria that live symbiotically in an important balanced community that makes up the majority of your immune system. When these microbes are thrown off balance, a variety of adverse health conditions can arise.

Time magazine cites a sobering deduction from the same study,

“…poor dietary choices get “encoded” into both DNA scaffolding and into the gut microbiome, meaning that food and lifestyle choices can permanently change the balance of bacteria in our bodies and can weaken the immune system. It also means those changes can be passed onto offspring.”

It is essential to replace your fast food, processed, packaged choices with fresh produce, legumes, grains and if you eat animals, free-range eggs, fish and meat. Don’t be duped by packaging and instead make your dietary choices life enhancing instead of life weakening.