A healthy immune system ultimately means a healthier you. If you’re battling common colds and other viruses on a constant basis, you may be putting your immune system at risk without knowing it. Here are five ways you could be hindering your body’s ability to keep you safe from infection.
You’re Too Stressed
If you live a modern lifestyle, stress is inevitable. However, too much stress can put unnecessary strain on your immune system. This happens because prolonged stress causes your t-cells (which play a vital role in keeping your immune system healthy) to respond slower, so they aren’t as alert and ready to fight off viruses and diseases as soon as they enter the body. Yoga, meditation, and a good workout are all ways to combat high stress levels and protect your immune system.
You’re Not Exercising Enough
If you don’t have a regular workout routine, you may want to get started as soon as possible. Studies have shown that exercise improves the production of cells called macrophages. These are the cells that attack bacteria in the body (particularly in the lungs) and prevent upper respiratory infections and diseases. Studies also show that raising the body temperature helps to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. You don’t need a strenuous exercise plan to reap the benefits, and it doesn’t have to be a long workout. 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise each day is enough to help give your immune system a boost.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep not only helps you feel more restful in the morning, but it also enables the body to fight off diseases. Healthcare professionals report that skimping on sleep actually reduces the number of white cells in the blood, which can lead to a compromised immune system. Some of the studies were conducted on college students by the University of Chicago. So, if you need an excuse to doze off a bit in the afternoon, or to get more sleep at night, this is definitely a good reason.
You’re Consuming Too Much Sugar
The cells in your immune system that attack bacteria are curbed when you intake too much sugar. This effect lasts for hours after eating or drinking sugar laden foods. If you’re guilty of this, then you should take action immediately and reduce your intake. When you just need something sweet, reach for fruit instead. The body processes natural sugars differently than the processed kind, and fruit has other vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to your entire body, including your immune system.
You’re Being Exposed to Secondhand Smoke
People who smoke are more prone to developing respiratory infections and other common illnesses. This happens because tobacco smoke suppresses the immune system and greatly damages lung tissues. What’s interesting is that the effects are twice as bad when secondhand smoke is involved. This means that if you’re living with or hanging around someone who smokes, they’re actually putting you in more danger than themselves. The resolution to this one is definitely a no-brainer, unless of course the source of your secondhand smoke is someone that lives with you in the home. You would need to have them smoke outside, or better yet, help them quit.
Your immune system is your body’s personal army that protects you against all sorts of viruses and diseases. It can only do as good a job as you allow it, and you have more control than you think. Get plenty of sleep, avoid second hand smoke like the plague, and watch your sugar intake. Exercise often, and keep your stress levels low. These are all simple ways you can help protect your immune system and keep your body virus and disease free.