A study suggests putting strict limits on calorie intake might be harmful to our immune systems.
Due to the world we currently live in, keeping our immune systems in top shape is one of our main concerns right now. Our immune systems help us stay healthy and prevent all kinds of illnesses, from the flu to COVID-19.
And now, a new study shows that aggressive weight-loss diets can be damaging to our immune systems, making it more likely to contract diseases.
While weight loss is still a charged topic and there’s a lot of fat phobia to contend with, we’ve started to associate weight loss with a more active lifestyle, made up of healthy eating and lots of activity over simply eating restrictive diets. The general approach towards this topic is that healthy living is more about being happy, rather than looking thin.
The study, conducted in Iran and published in the American Journal of Translation Research, explored the degree to which weight restriction would affect people’s immune systems. Researchers found that aggressive food restrictions lowered people’s immune systems, thus promoting that all sorts of diets should be conducted in a careful manner, preferably with the advice of experts.
The study tracked 29 overweight women, dividing them into two groups. One was the control group, advised to eat freely, while the other took medications to lose weight and followed a restrictive diet that asked them to consume 600 or fewer calories per day. For comparison purposes, women consume an average of 1,600 to 2,000 calories on a daily basis.
Both groups lost weight. The group of women that followed these restrictive guidelines lost 10% of their body fat, while also losing some of their “natural killer cells,” which are pivotal for the body’s immune system.
While the study was small and doesn’t contain a very representative sample of participants, it does suggest the importance of gradual weight loss, especially when it comes to people’s immune systems. It also highlights how a combined approach to weight loss, made up of a more active lifestyle and some caloric restriction, might be best to keep your entire system running smoothly, especially during the times when you need it most.