11 Ways You’re Harming Your Immune System

The number of cases associated with the coronavirus has surpassed 90 000, and the death toll has is over the 3000s. That said, of these 80 000 cases over 50 000 of them have recovered from the illness. One then has to ask, what sets the two groups apart? One potential reason could be the fact that the larger group has a much stronger immune system.

Our immune system is the most important system in the body. Made up of different cells. tissues, and organs, the immune system helps to keep the body healthy and free of disease by fighting off germs and bacteria. That said, a lot of us do our best to maintain a strong immune system as it’s clearly the key to living a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, as there are habits that help to strengthen the immune system, there are other habits that serve to weaken it.

In fact, if you find yourself constantly sick and suffering from other symptoms that point to a weak immune system, such as fatigue and headaches, then you may need to re-evaluate your habits. In fact, your lifestyle habits could be responsible for your weak immune system. That said, if you’re guilty of the below habits, you may need to stop them and stock up on some vitamin C.

11 Ways You’re Harming Your Immune System

1. You’re not sleeping enough

You need to sleep. Sleep is imperative to good health, and it’s important that you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Not doing so will comprise your immune system, as lack of sleep affects your body’s disease-fighting antibodies, making you prone to illnesses.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that adequate sleep helps to improve the body’s T cells count – these cells are a type of immune cells that fight off virus-infected cells such as the flu and HIV. That said, lack of sleep can affect your T-cells count, thus making you more prone and vulnerable to infections.

If you’re battling with getting some good sleep, be sure that you stop using your devices at least 45 minutes before bed. You can also make sure that there’s no TV in your bedroom. Additionally, essential oils have also been found to help one get a good night’s rest.

2. You’re smoking

The health problems associated with smoking have been well-documented, and yet people can’t seem to put out their cigarettes.

Cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, expose you to nicotine and this addictive compound can reduce the body’s antibody response, as well as affect the T cell’s functionality (1).

If that’s not enough, secondhand smoke is just as harmful as it’s been found to kill an estimated 600 00 people every year.

With that said, it’s important that you consult your doctor so that they can advise you on how to quit smoking. also if you’re not a smoker but a victim of secondhand smoke, it’s important that you avoid secondhand smoke at all costs, even if it means spending less time with people who are smokers.

3. You’re not drinking enough water

Whilst the debate rages on about how much water you should be drinking a day, I think we can all agree that you should be drinking at least 2 liters of water a day.

Water plays a vital role in nearly every bodily process, including maintaining the health of your immune system, and not drinking enough of it can cause all kinds of health problems. That said, it’s important to stay hydrated. If you’re battling with drinking enough water, try carrying a glass bottle around with you, making sure that it’s always filled with water. You can also opt to add fruit or lemon for flavor, or instead, opting for sparkling water.

4. You’re stressed

Yes, stress is a part of our everyday life, however, chronic stress is the last thing we should be enduring. In fact, chronic stress can affect the immune system, making you more prone to infections and diseases.

High levels of stress increase the levels of the hormone cortisol, and this then affects the functionality of T-cells. As a result, your immune system weakens and you become more susceptible to colds and the flu.

If you’re battling with stress, one of the best ways to combat it would be by taking up yoga or meditation, exercising, baking or even listening to music.

5. You’re not making any friends

If you’re a bit of a loner, then you may be putting your health at risk by impairing your immune system.

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a strong association between loneliness and an impaired immune system. If that’s not enough, one of the traits associated with the world’s Blue Zones (five areas that were virtually free of disease and with numerous healthy residents that were living to age 100 and beyond) is their emphasis on community and social bonds.

If you’re feeling lonely and you’re looking to come out of your shell more, you could try forming bonds with your coworkers or creating a schedule whereby you meet your friends for lunch every weekend. 

6. You’re not active

Exercise not only helps to burn calories, but it also boasts a number of benefits, that include protecting your immune system. In fact, research published in the World Journal of Experimental Medicine suggested that people who exercise have improved white blood cell count and function.

That said, it’s also been found that sitting too much, be it at the office or at home, can also impair your body’s immune function. Therefore, it’s important to be as active as you can. Try scheduling 30 minutes of regular exercise into your daily routine and put a timer on your phone that will remind you to get up from your seat every 30 minutes.

7. You’re too active

Yes, living a sedentary lifestyle can impair your immune system, but so can going extreme with your workout.

Your body needs to rest between intense workouts, so don’t shy away from taking a rest day. Not doing so can be harmful to your body, thus making it more vulnerable to infection (1).

If you begin to experience fatigue and chronic muscle soreness then you may need to take a day or two off to allow your body to recover.

8. You drink too much

Yes, a glass of wine a day does have its benefits, but excessive drinking is the worst thing you could do to your immune system.

According to research published in the journal Alcohol Research, excessive drinking can impair affect the immune system by inhibiting the function of white blood cells, which then places one at high risk for infection.

So, if you drink alcohol, try to limit your intake to no more than 2 drinks per day if you’re a man, and no more than 1 drink per day if you’re a woman.  

9. You’re pessimistic

A smile a day really does keep the doctor away.

According to a study published in the  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal, a negative attitude can not only affect your immune system, but it can also increase inflammation.

Additionally, a study from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine suggested that having a positive attitude, as well as regularly laughing, can help to boost immune function. flu

Try to spend every day of the next week telling yourself what you’re thankful for. Additionally, you can also spend more time with your friends or watch more of your favorite comedies.

10. You love antibiotics

According to the World Health Organisation, the overuse of antibiotics is one of the biggest threats to global health and security. This is because their overuse can make you resistant to these drugs over time, and this then increases your risk for serious infections.

As such, it’s important to only take antibiotics for bacterial infections and to never use them just for a viral infection. Also, don’t shy away from calling your doctor out if you believe that he is inappropriately prescribing you antibiotics

11. You’re eating a poor diet

Consuming a diet high in sugars and salts can actually weaken the immune system, making you vulnerable to infections and disease.

According to a study published in the Journal of Tumor, both a high intake of sugar and salt can seriously impair your immune system by affecting the ability of white blood cells to kill off bacteria. Also, it’s not just sugar and salt that can make you more prone to disease. in fact, red meat has also been found to weaken the immune system (2).

That said, make sure that you consume a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Conclusion

In addition to practicing proper hygiene habits, which include washing your hands properly before eating, as well as after using the bathroom, it’s important that you take precautionary measures when it comes to protecting your health. Your immune system is one of the most important components in the human body, and as such, it needs to be protected and maintained at all costs.

References

Cole, S.,Capitanio, J., Katie Chun, K. (2015). Myeloid differentiation in social isolation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,112 (49) 15142-15147; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514249112

Dimitrov, S., Lange, T., Gouttefangeas, C., et al (2019). Gαs-coupled receptor signaling and sleep regulate integrin activation of human antigen-specific T cells. J Exp Med. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20181169

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2010, April 26). Body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise, study finds. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426113058.htm

Graham-Engeland, J., Sin, N., Smyth, J., et al. (2018). Negative and positive affect as predictors of inflammation: Timing matters, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity,Volume 74,Pages 222-230,

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Langelier, C. (2018). A firsthand view of how secondhand smoke disrupts airway immunity. Science Translational Medicine.

Piao, W. H., Campagnolo, D., Dayao, C., Lukas, R. J., Wu, J., & Shi, F. D. (2009). Nicotine and inflammatory neurological disorders. Acta pharmacologica Sinica30(6), 715–722. https://doi.org/10.1038/aps.2009.67

Samraj, A., Pearce, O., Läubli, H. et al. (2015), Red meat-derived glycan promotes cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (2) 542-547; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417508

Sand, K. L., Flatebo, T., Andersen, M. B., & Maghazachi, A. A. (2013). Effects of exercise on leukocytosis and blood hemostasis in 800 healthy young females and males. World journal of experimental medicine3(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.5493/wjem.v3.i1.11

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