Your immune system is what helps your body fight off disease. This system is a collection of cells and organs in your body that attacks outside contaminents that threaten your health. When your immune system is weakened, you are more likely to become sick. Indeed, a good immune system is essential if you expect to ward of illnesses and remain in good health. Unfortunately, there are many things you could be doing right now to wreck your immune system. Here are 25 things that could put your immune system — and your health — at risk.
You are what you eat. And if what you eat is junk, that’s what your immune system is likely to be. While avoiding certain foods altogether is not required to maintain a healthy immune system, it is a good idea to remember moderation. Here are some of the ways that what you choose to put into your body can affect your immune system in a negative manner.
- Too much sugar: I have a sweet tooth. However, I have to remember to moderate how much I eat. Too much sugar interferes with the body’s ability to absorb needed nutrients — especially Vitamin C (which is thought to be good for the immune system). You can end up with a hormonal and chemical imbalance when you consumer too much sugar, and that’s rarely a good thing.
- High amounts of fat: Just as eating too much sugar can be bad for your immune system, so too can excess fat. High amounts of fat can cause toxins to get into your body’s systems — including your immune system, weakening your ability to fight of disease. Even too much unsaturated fat can cause problems with your immune system.
- Excess protein: It is true that protein is needed for a healthy body and properly functioning immune system. However, too much protein starts to wreak havoc with your body. This is because unused protein is converted into fat for storage. And that fat can cause immune system problems.
- Excess alcohol: Alcohol deprives the body of nutrients that can help boost the immune system. On top of that, high amounts of alcohol can actually suppress white blood cells. White blood cells are an essential part of your immune system.
- Drugs: Illegal drugs have obvious effects on the immune system. Marijuana and other drugs can inhibit the absorption of helpful nutrients into the blood stream. However, over the counter and prescription drugs can also effect the immune system in a negative way. In fact, there is a common antibiotic that, when combined with a specific immune system, can cause serious injury.
- Food allergies: Food allergies contribute to immune system problems. If you are lactose intolerant, or if you have Celiac disease, or some other food allergy, your immune system is affected. Every time you eat something that your body attacks, the response is harder to overcome, and your immune system is weakened.
- Lack of probiotics: There are certain bacteria that are actually good for you. There is speculation (nothing proven) that probiotics can boost your immune system. A lack of them can leave your illness-fighting capabilities below what is needed. Yogurt is one of the most famous sources of probiotics.
- Not enough water: Water can help you keep your immune system healthy. It aids in flushing out toxins, and that means that your immune system does not have to work so hard. Drinking water, instead of energy drinks, soda and other unhealthy beverages can be of great help to your immune system.
- General lack of nutrition: Without proper nutrition, your body does not have what it needs to function at a high level — and that includes your immune system.
How you live your life can also affect your immune system. Your lifestyle choices can ultimately influence your immune system and your overall health. Here are some of the ways that you can mess up your immune system:
- Lack of sleep: We’re all busy, and sometimes sleep is the thing we sacrifice in order to get done everything we need to do. However, sleep is a vital component to your immune system. Rest allows your cells to regenerate, and your body’s systems to gain strength. Without adequate rest, your immune system can falter.
- Lack of exercise: If you are too sedentary, your body does not receive the healthy exercise it needs to be strong. Regular exercise can help boost your immune system, and help you feel better in general.
- Too much exercise: While moderate, regular exercise is good for the immune system, too much exercise can cause problems. When you are too intense, too much of the time, you actually start to harm your body. Too much physical stress can overwhelm the body, and the immune system.
- Chronic stress: Are you stressed out and anxious? Chronic stress can actually harm the immune system through the inability of the body to respond to certain hormonal signals. So, slow down. You may be making yourself susceptible to illness.
- Yo-yo dieting: Another habit that may affect your immune system is yo-yo dieting. Dramatic weight changes, and attempts to lose weight quickly, wreak havoc with your body. These frequent, extreme changes to the body can lead to a weaker immune system.
- Fun in the sun: Without proper protection, your fun in the sun could turn into an immune system problem. Prolonged exposure to ultra violet (UV) rays can interfere with the way your immune system functions. While a small amount of sunlight helps with Vitamin D production in the body, too much can be harmful. Make sure to wear sunscreen while you are outside.
- Smoking: When you smoke, you weaken your immune system. Smoking introduces harmful elements into your system, forcing your immune processes to work overtime. Children exposed to second hand smoke are especially vulnerable when it comes to their immune systems.
There are a number of health concerns and conditions that can affect the immune system. It is important that, if you have these health concerns, you do what you can to compensate for your weakened immune system:
- Aging: There’s not much you can do about this one, except live as healthy a lifestyle as you can manage. As your body ages, its processes begin to break down, and this includes the immune system.
- Injuries: Any stress on your body can result in stress on your immune system. Injuries definitely fall into this category. Repeated injuries — from falling or sports or some other reason — can lead to reduced capacity for your immune system.
- Depression: One of the most difficult issues facing many people is depression. But depression does more than affect your psychological wellbeing. Depression also causes an increase in hormones that can wear down the immune system.
- Regular infections: The more your immune system is called upon, the more worn out it becomes. If you have regular infections or sickness, you can put added stress on your immune system and reduce its ability to respond to illness.
- Not washing your hands: Many illnesses are acquired through lack of good hygiene. Poor hygiene introduces Practice good hygiene, washing your hands, and keeping cuts and scrapes clean. You should also bathe regularly and take other measures to keep your body clean. However, don’t go overboard. Like all else, moderation is needed. Excessive hygiene can be harmful as well.
- Treatment for illness: When you are treated for illness — espcially if that treatment is aggressive — you can end up with a weaker immune system. This is especially true of some cancer, HIV/AIDS and other chronic/terminal illness treatments.
- Anitbiotics: Strange as it may sound, the aggressive use of antibiotics in everything from handsoap to medications may be weakening the immune system. Antibiotics can kill helpful bacteria that aid your immune system, and you also have to be concerned about antibiotic resistance amongst some germs.
- Seasonal allergies: If you have seasonal allergies, you may find that your immune system is affected. Allergies trigger responses in your body to fight invading pathogens. The recurring trigger leads to an immune system that can become worn down.
- Impurities in the air: What you breath in can affect your immune system. Air pollution, dust and other particles can enter your body and trigger an immune response. Whether outside or inside, try to avoid dirty air.