Our immune system protects our body from harmful invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. Different organs around our body help to produce cells and proteins that fight off these invaders. However, our lifestyle can greatly affect the efficiency of our immune system. Make the wrong lifestyle choices and you could risk weakening your immune system, leaving it more open to attacks. Below are just a few things that can weaken our immune system, and what you can do to re-strengthen it.
Practising poor personal hygiene
Bad personal hygiene habits such as not washing your hands, not brushing your teeth and not bathing/showering regularly can expose your body to increased amounts of bacteria, virus and fungi. Your immune system has a harder time fighting off all these foreign bodies and so infections are more likely to break out.
By practising good personal hygiene, you can get rid of harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses before it has a chance to enter your body and cause problems. That isn’t to say that you should practice excessive cleanliness (although, contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t actually harm your immune system), however you should try to maintain good hygiene habits.
Getting a poor night’s sleep
Sleep is believed to play a key part in our production of infection-fighting antibodies. Studies show that these antibodies are reduced during periods of sleep deprivation. As a result, you’re more likely to fall ill when you haven’t been getting a good night’s sleep.
Just how much sleep should you be getting each night? Ideally 6 to 9 hours. Of course, there are times when this isn’t possible (such as when raising a newborn), however you should try to avoid long-term sleep deprivation where possible (even if it does mean going to bed earlier). There are many ways to improve your sleep quality if you currently struggle to sleep.
Not getting enough nutrition into your diet
Our immune system requires certain vitamins, proteins and minerals to function well. If you’re not getting these nutrients in your diet, you can expect your immune system to be weaker.
This generally comes down to eating enough fruit and vegetables, as well as eating natural sources of protein such as beans, nuts and unprocessed meats. Consuming herbs in supplement form can also help – check out this post on the 10 Best Herbs For Good Health To Support Your Well-Being for a few examples. At the same time, make sure that you’re cutting down on foods that contain little to no nutritional value such as candy and fast food.
Drinking too much alcohol
Alcohol suppresses the immune system, preventing it from working properly. If you drink regularly, you could therefore find that you’re more susceptible to picking up colds and flus.
Cutting down on alcohol has many health benefits from better skin health to reduced risk of cancers and heart disease. A stronger immune system could just be another reason to cut down on alcohol if you’re a heavy drinker.
Being a smoker
As this article the Effects of Tobacco on the Immune System details, smoking also has a negative impact on the immune system. This is due to various negative effects such as poor lung health and impaired oxygen intake.
Quitting smoking could help to strengthen your immune system – providing that you don’t leave it too late. You’ll also reduce the risk of developing various other health conditions as a result of smoking.
Not getting regular exercise
Regular exercise is also very important for our immune system. It can help to flush out bacteria and other contaminants from our lungs. It can also help to fight obesity, which has a negative impact on our immune system.
Simply doing some moderate exercise each day could have a positive impact on your immune system – this could include a brisk walk to the local shop or even some intense physical housework.
Staying in a job you hate
Hate your job? It could be time to finally leave, as it could be damaging your health. Our jobs are often one of the biggest sources of stress. Chronic stress can wear down the body, increasing our blood pressure, increasing inflammation and reducing our immune system.
By finding a less stressful job, you could help to restore good function to your immune system. Even taking time off can be good for boosting your immune system.
Avoiding social interaction
Social interaction is very important for our health – as this post What Are The Health Benefits of Being Social explains. One of its many health benefits is its ability to boost our immune system. While physical social interaction does potentially expose us to more dangers, talking to people is important for our mental health and can reduce stress, boosting our immune system.
Make an effort to keep in contact with friends and family. If you only have a small social circle and don’t have people you can talk to, consider going out and meeting people – it could be beneficial to your mental and physical health.
Spending too much time indoors
Spending time in the great outdoors can also have a positive impact on our immune system. Studies show that spending time among nature can reduce stress. Going outdoors also exposes us to more sunlight, which is rich in vitamin D – a vitamin that is key to the function of our immune system.
If you spend most of your time each day indoors, consider challenging yourself to get outside more. This could include going for a walk in your lunch break or spending some time in your backyard in the evening.
Bottling up negative emotions
As mentioned already, stress can inhibit our immune system. If you have a tendency to bottle up negative emotions, you could prevent this stress from being released, causing your immune system to remain compromised.
Find a healthy way to let out this stress – whether it be exercise, listening to music or taking a hot bath. Often the best way to tackle the source of stress is to talk it out with people. Don’t keep those negative feeling inside of you as they will only get worse.