The Detrimental Impact of Sugar on the Immune System

Last updated October 11, 2022

Everybody knows about the connection between high sugar intake and diabetes. There are other health dangers to sugar, however, that are not as obvious. For example, did you know that consuming too much sugar can have a direct effect on your immune system?

Read on to learn more about the connection between sugar and immune heath as well as some easy steps you can take now to stop the “sugar cycle” from affecting you!

The State of Sugar

Here is an inconvenient (and kind of scary) truth. Sugar, in all its varying forms, can be found in more foods now than ever before. Yes, it is there in obvious places such as sugary drinks, cakes, muffins, cookies, and candy.

But it can also be present in many other prepared foods such as condiments, sauces, and crackers. In fact, the University of California, San Francisco estimates that close to 74% of all prepared, pre-packaged foods sold in the U.S. today have some amount of sugar in it. (1)

Add to the mix simple carbs found in pastas and breads and it is easy to see why the majority of the US population consumes way too much overall glucose for their good health. The American Heart Association recommends keeping sugar to 6% of total calories per day.

That is about 6 teaspoons per day for women. (2) Sadly, most Americans eat way more than that. According to the Angeles Institute, the average adult consumption is close to 17 teaspoons a day, which translates to about 56 pounds of added sugar per individual per year. (3)

What Sugar Does to the Immune System

The devastating results of all this added sugar can be seen in the skyrocketing amounts of people with Type II diabetes today. According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, diabetes is “increasing at an alarming rate” in the US, with the total number for 2020 being about 34.2 million, or about 10% of the population. (4) (5)

But high sugar intake can be devastating for the immune system as well. One of the common denominators between high sugar consumption and low immunity is inflammation. A 2018 report published in the journal Experimental Cell Research found that a high-sugar diet unbalances the normal function of many immune system mechanisms, including pathogen-targeting pathways. (6)

Sugar overconsumption also deteriorates the health of the gut microbiota. According to a 2012 investigation conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia, “…diet can cause dysbiosis, an alteration in the composition of the microbiota, which could lead to aberrant immune responses.”

This includes low immunity and higher risk for diseases such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune responses like Celiac and Crohn’s as well as systemic conditions such as obesity and Type 1 and 2 diabetes. (7)

Another study conducted at Case Western University found that certain infection-increasing molecular mechanisms are set into place when blood sugar levels get too high. The research pointed to substances called dicarbonyls that are created during the breakdown of glucose which can interfere with infection-control mechanisms of the immune system. (8)

So, in a nutshell, eating too much sugar is just plain bad news. It can lead to inflammation and gut dysbiosis can weaken the immune system and open you up to attack by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and more.

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The Many Names for Sugar

With this little bit of knowledge, the answer to the “sugar dilemma” may seem obvious. Just don’t eat anything that has “sugar” in the ingredient list, right?

Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated than that. Did you know that there are dozens of different names for sugar that may appear on the label of that prepared food product you just purchased? Here are just a few:

  • Cane juice
  • Barley malt
  • Palm syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Mannose
  • Glucose solids
  • Rice syrup
  • Refiners syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Panocha
  • Treacle
  • Maltodextrin
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Finally, just a word on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). According to experts, a large percentage of the sugar consumed by most Americans is in the form of this sneaky sugar substance. This is scary news since HFCS can be especially damaging to the body. This is because it absorbs HFCS in a very different way than other forms of glucose.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a monosaccharide and does not have the same effect on insulin as regular sugar does. (9) It is easier to become chemically addicted to HFCS than other kinds of sugar. HFCS also has the ability to block neurological hunger and satiety signaling while at the same time stimulating the “hedonic pathways.”

These are pathways that are connected to reward-based regulation, according to a joint study conducted in part by Yale University, the University of Southern California, and Kaiser Permanente. (10) HCFS also contains GMO materials, preservatives, and heavy metals. A study conducted over 10 years ago at Cambridge University found a definitive link between HFCS consumption and Alzheimer’s Disease. (11)

Consuming processed sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and starch can shut down immune responses for up to 5 hours. (12)

What You Can Do

If you are overwhelmed by all the “sneaky” (and not-so-sneaky) ways that sugar can slip into your diet, you are not alone. The good news is that there are ways to outwit sugar and regain your immune health naturally. Here are a few tips that could save the day:

1. Eat a Whole Foods Diet.

Making major dietary changes can be difficult, but it is so worth it for your immune health as well as for your overall energy level. A recent survey put together by researchers at Pomona University in California found that those who stayed away from prepared, prepackaged, fast foods and ate mostly whole foods experienced increased energy levels as well as more restful sleep and improved brain health. (13)

Many items labeled as “health food,” such as yogurts, granola bars, prepackaged smoothies, fruit juices, and “organic” sauces, may contain high amounts of sugar. Don’t be fooled. Just because you found it at the health food store doesn’t mean that it is good for you.

Create small, attainable goals every week that can move you towards a whole foods diet that includes fresh, organic vegetables, organic lean meats, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and millet. And don’t forget that whole foods also mean whole fruits like berries, green apples, and apricots, as well as blended fruit and veggie smoothies. Eaten in modest amounts, fruits can be a great sneaky sugar substitute as well as a healthy source of vitamins and minerals.

healthy smoothie ideas and ingredients

2. Choose Healthy Sugar Substitutes.

Let’s face it, we all give in to that sweet tooth every once in a while. When you do splurge, make sure it is as healthy as possible.

The first step is to be in the know and stay away from any form of artificial sugar substitute. This includes brands like Sweet ‘n Low, Splenda, and Sugar Twin. These products confuse hunger and satiety hormones in the body. They are 100% chemically derived and regular consumption can lead to liver damage, gut imbalance, and a higher risk of cancer.  Studies have also linked artificial sweeteners to cardiovascular disease, stroke, mood disorders, and migraine headaches. (14)

Unfortunately, so-called “sugar alcohols,” which manufacturers often label as “natural,” also fall into the artificial camp. Substances such as erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol can cause high blood sugar, Leaky Gut, brain damage, and imbalanced immune function.

All that being said, is it even possible to “satisfy that craving” while at the same time staying healthy? You bet!

We already mentioned fruit in the first section. Eaten in moderate amounts, whole fruits contain a cornucopia of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. For example, did you know that both apples and bananas, as well as most berries, contain many kinds of B vitamins, as well as a hefty amount of vitamins A and C? Apple sauce or a small amount of date paste, can be great substitutes for refined sugar in baking. Other options include natural sugar substitutes such as monk fruit or stevia, which are also great for baking or sweetening coffee or tea.

Finally, don’t rule out small amounts of honey. Yes, honey does rate fairly high on the glycemic index, so you may want to avoid it if you have diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition. However, like whole fruits, honey also contains many body-enriching vitamins and minerals. Some varieties of honey, like Manuka or your local organic regional varieties, can even give your immune system a major boost!

3. Use Healthy Natural Substances to Boost Immunity

If you have been on the sugar train for a while, it can be hard to get off. The fact is, however, that there are many natural substances out there that can help you on your path and also help get your immune system back online.

One such substance is called beta glucan. Beta glucans are polysaccharides that develop on the cell walls of some grains, fungi, and yeasts. Beta glucans have the ability to go through Peyer’s Patches in the intestinal wall. Once they enter the bloodstream, they make a beeline to immune cells to support, rebalance, and supercharge cells like never before.

In particular, beta glucans purified from Baker’s Yeast have proven to be of particular benefit for rebuilding and boosting the immune system. A 2011 Turkish study found that Baker’s Yeast beta glucans were significantly beneficial for boosting key mechanisms of immunity in addition to providing added support for the liver. (15) Another study report published in the Proceedings of the 2017 AIP Physical Scientists Conference discovered that beta glucans consumption can increase T cell counts as well as immunoglobulin levels. (16) Investigations at the University of Louisville further found that beta glucans help the body fight influenza.

Comparison Studies:

Better Way Health Beta Glucan vs Cape Fear® Naturals Beta Glucan
Better Way Health Beta Glucan vs Unicity® Immunizen
Better Way Health Beta Glucan vs Bulk Supplements Beta Glucan

Our Amazing Immune System Can Bounce Back!

The evidence is clear that too much sugar lowers immune function and can be a major factor for infectious susceptibility as well as for major diseases.

Once we become empowered about it, however, we can break the “sugar cycle” in our own lives. We can lower our consumption, turn to a healthy, whole foods diet, and use key natural substances to help us boost our immunity along the way.

The best natural support substances simply help our innate healing abilities by boosting and supporting the immune system. And this is exactly where beta glucans come in. Beta glucans are designed to work with our natural systems to fight off pathogenic bacteria, infections, and more.

If given the right environment, our bodies have the ability to fight off the toughest pathogenic adversaries so that we can truly thrive!


For more information about beta glucan, Better Way Health and more, visit our FAQ page. To speak to an Amazing Customer Experience Specialist, give us a call at 800.746.7640or email us at

Our Beta Glucan goes through a rigorous purification process developed by the creator: AJ Lanigan. Once this purification process takes place, only about 10% of a given “batch” meets our 85% minimum purity standard. The “scraps”, so to speak (the other 90% of the batches), are then sold off and marketed by other companies. In addition, the product has been tested time and time again to prove its efficacy. When compared to other heavily marketed immune system products, our product comes out on top every single time. These comparison studies are conducted by a disinterested third party researcher at the University of Louisville: Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka. In these studies, immune response levels are safely tested on both humans and animals. Our product is also Non-GMO and encased in a Vegan, plant-based capsule.

-Better Way Health

Better Way Health Beta Glucan is certainly one of the most renowned brands out there in the marketplace. In our world of immune system support, when you ask “What’s the best immune system supplement out there?”; well, the Better Way Health name is the most recognized.

Anyone who has spent time reviewing side-by-side comparisons of our product with, again, just about any other kind of immune compound; regardless of the source, you’re going to find that Beta Glucan 500 by Better Way Health outperforms all competitors. This has been the case for years; this is not a new phenomenon that conclusive research done by disinterested third parties in major universities and teaching hospitals all over the world agree that the potency of Glucan 500 makes it 100% the leading immune system product available.

-AJ Lanigan

The immunomodulating aspects of Beta Glucan is what makes it safer and more efficacious than the competition. Studies confirm our Beta Glucan is the most effective immune system product on the market, including even other beta glucans. The patented purification process developed by AJ Lanigan is what makes our Beta Glucan more biologically active and beneficial to consumers.

-Better Way Health

This is rather easy to answer. Our Beta Glucan has one really big advantage in that it is the most studied natural immonomodulator of them all. The biological studies number in the tens of thousands. For most other products, you may find 10 to 15 studies. If you have 10,000+ papers from all around the world, that cannot be ignored.

-Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

We did a couple of studies and we published them comparing some individual glucans to individual immune-modulators like Echinacea. That is one example, most of the clinical studies on that plant failed because one company is using leaves, one is using roots and each has a different quality inside so you never know what you get.

With the "mixture" type products, it is even worse because some manufacturers are just trying to either increase the price by putting five things together, so it’s not 30 bucks it’s now $50. None of these manufacturers are actually doing any research on the combinations of their ingredients.

-Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

This topic is like comparing Super Bowl Champions (Better Way Health Beta Glucan) to Recreational Sports Teams (the competition). There is practically no comparison; when you look at the average Immune System Product on the market, even an abundance of it may only be able to raise your Immune Response 2 to 3 percent. That increase, however, may be costing you thousands of dollars; thus, I would not consider that to be much of a comparison. For about 1$ a day, with our Glucan 500 product, you can get your immune response up to about 60% (double the innate human immunity): no one can compete with that efficacy.

-AJ Lanigan

Beta Glucan has been studied for over 50 years at major universities and teaching hospitals, all of which are disinterested third party researchers. There are more than 150,000 glucan studies on and nearly 50,000 studies involving glucans and humans. Our Beta Glucan specifically has been featured in over 20 medical journals, including the prestigious American Journal of Immunology and the Journal of Medicinal Food.

-Better Way Health

There are more than 150,000 studies on Glucan that you can find on Medline and PubMed. Roughly, you can also find 50,000 studies on Glucans and their interaction with Humans. Throughout these studies, there has never been an adverse side effect found with our Beta Glucan.

-AJ Lanigan

Other than the thousands of studies out there, there is an excellent book by Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka from the University of Louisville entitled, Beta Glucan: Nature’s Secret. It’s about 157 pages and provides a quick, educational read for those interested in everything Beta Glucan: the history, safety, benefits, and mechanism of action of Beta Glucan. The bibliography included in the book provides dozens of other peer-reviewed articles and journals for curious consumers.

-AJ Lanigan

If somebody goes to PubMed.Gov or some kind of scientific database, there is about 150,000 hits now and about 50 new papers appear every week. The research is really booming.

-Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

Anyone / anything with an immune system can benefit from taking Beta Glucan, including both humans and pets. Our immune system is our first line of defense and it can always use additional “soldiers.” Keep in mind that our Beta Glucan makes a person’s immune system smarter and stronger, but never causes overstimulation or harm. There are no known side effects.

-Better Way Health

“Anyone who is living can benefit from a healthier Immune System” – A.J. Lanigan

People who want proper support for their Immune System should use this product. People who simply want to maintain or regain their good health can benefit from this product as well.

Many conditions, whether environmental or physical, put significant stress on the Immune System.

Infectious Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Chemotherapy Treatment, Radiation, Allergies, Asthma, and Stress are all severely taxing on the body. This type of suppression and depression of the immune system is what puts everyone’s health person at risk. Be proactive; take a product that benefits your overall health by enhancing your body’s own natural ability to stay well and recuperate.

That’s right, anyone and everyone can benefit from the immune modulating effects of Beta-1, 3D Glucan. 

-AJ Lanigan

For people who are under heavy stress or are just working in some kind of extreme conditions, they need all the help they can get. Proactive supplementation is also recommended for Flu and Cold seasons

-Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

For maximum immune response, take one 500mg capsule per 50 lbs. of body weight. For example, if you weigh around 150 lbs. you would need to take 3 capsules per day. All capsules should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. After taking your capsules, wait 30 minutes before eating or consuming other products. If you forget to take your capsules in the morning it is safe to go ahead and take your Beta Glucan during the day, although the benefits will not be as significant. Remember, these dosage instructions are for maximum immune response, any dose (i.e., 1 capsule per day) is still extremely beneficial.

-Better Way Health

Maximum dose is based on body weight: Remember, your weight in kg’s is your weight in pounds divided by 2.2. For example, a 220lb person is 100kg. The guideline for maintaining good health is 2mg/kg of body weight per day. For the 220 pound person mentioned above, who is 100kg, they should take 200mg per day and that would be extraordinarily effective Immune Support.

For people who want or need additional immune support, there is a 500mg capsule. The recommendation for this group is 20 mg/kg/day or a 500mg capsule for every 50 pounds of body weight. Thus, a 100kg person (220lb) would take 4 capsules of the 500mg per day; for a 110 pound person, two capsules of the 500mg Beta Glucan would suffice. If your weight does not calculate out to an exact dose, round up or down depending on your needs; or you can average it out by taking 1 capsule one day and 2 the next.

The point is, the product is safe and you can be flexible with dosage if you reflect the guidelines above. Even taking just 1 - 500mg capsule each day is an extremely beneficial dose.

Neutrophils and monocytes in our blood live only for a couple of days. That is why you have a need for constant, daily, glucan consumption because they die and the new cells are appearing and then you need the glucan again to boost these immune cells.

-Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

No, there are no known side effects pertaining to our Beta Glucan. There have been numerous safe human and animal studies showing the safety of Beta Glucan. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given our Beta Glucan GRAS rating, which means Generally Recognized as Safe under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This certification is extremely hard to achieve especially when it comes to a dietary supplement.

-Better Way Health

You can absolutely take this product without worry! There have been multiple studies done on fully-healthy people looking at every health parameter you can imagine: organs, tissues, chemicals, brain function, etcetera.

No harmful effects were caused at any dosage level. Even people who were taking doses that were exponentially higher than any level we recommend, (some of the more exotic animal studies have doses that exceed 800X the recommended dosage) displayed 0 side effects whatsoever. As I am famous for saying, “unless you hit somebody in the eye with the bottle, there is no harm that can be caused by this product”

-AJ Lanigan

Beta Glucan enhances a person’s immune response in a safe way. The average person has about a 30% active immune response. When someone takes our Beta Glucan it raises that person’s immune response to 60%, and in some cases even more, if they are taking the maximum immune response dosage. This allows for your immune system to recognize cells that are both self and non-self more effectively. I’m sure you can imagine the benefits of walking around with a doubled immune response/immune system!

-Better Way Health

Beta Glucan enhances the immune system by improving the immune response when the immune system is confronted by something that does not belong. This could be a foreign body that it sees as “non-self,” something like a virus, a bacteria, a fungus form,  or a parasite.

Our Beta-1, 3D Glucan is an intensely purified, highly active form of Beta Glucan; that, when taken orally with a glass of water, attaches to specific sites on the immune cells: the CR3 receptors. By attaching or binding to these specific sites, it activates these cells. It’s like putting the cells on “high alert” to the foreign bodies that they see as non-self. This process is referred to as immune modulation, not stimulation.

Immune stimulation presumably occurs with substances like Echinacea and Colostrum. Beta Glucan modulates or activates but doesn’t over stimulate, which is key to the safety of the compound. Research shows that our Beta-1, 3D Glucan is a highly effective immune modulator. It’s easily absorbed through, what we call, the Peyer’s Patches in the Small Intestine. Once these beta glucan “micro-particles” are taken up through this area in the small intestine, they will then be absorbed through phagocytosis or “gobbled up” by the immune cells in the gut.

They’ll travel around the body and it is the immune cells themselves that will digest and secrete the perfect molecule that binds to the CR 3 receptor and activates the immune system.

-AJ Lanigan

Beta Glucan is not temperature sensitive. If it is exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures, the efficacy of the product will not be impacted. However, we do recommend keeping a close eye on your tracking information, which is sent to you via email with all orders. This way you know when your order will arrive and when you will be able to retrieve it from your mailbox or front door.

Our Beta Glucan is made in Wisconsin, USA and bottled / encapsulated in Oregon, USA.

Our highly purified Beta Glucan powder is encased in PLANTCAPS™, which is a Plant-based capsule made from pullulan – naturally fermented from tapioca.

After 50 years of research, our Beta Glucan has no known side effects, or interactions with a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) rating by the FDA. It is one of the safest, most effective dietary supplements on the market.

Many women take our Beta Glucan while breastfeeding, to help support their immune system. Babies can also benefit from mom's immune system giving the best response possible.

However, if you have any concerns whatsoever, we recommend consulting with your health care professional before use, as a precautionary measure.

Still have questions?

Our ACES Team is always there to help.

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