Our immune system is our body’s natural line of defense against harmful microorganisms that can cause diseases and infections. It involves a lot of biological structures and processes inside your body, and they can recognize millions of unwanted microbes and launch an effective attack to get rid of them. This protection usually goes unnoticed in your everyday life.
However, when a part of it becomes damaged, the whole immune system becomes weaker. Thus, you get sick faster or more frequently. From a common cold to a flu, you may contract more diseases when you have a weakened immune system. This can affect your normal routine negatively.
There are various ways in which you are letting your immune system get weaker. Some of these may even be regular parts of your routine that you have never realized is harming you. Check if you are doing any of these:
- You don’t socialize enough
Isolating yourself too much can lead to a higher chance of you becoming sick. Lack of social engagement floods our brains with anxiety-generating chemicals, which leads to emotional distress that can turn into depressive moods.
One study shows that, between 276 people between the ages of 18 and 55, those who had 6 or more connections were 4 times better at fighting off viruses that cause colds than those who had lesser connections or fewer friends.
- You avoid sunlight
While overexposure to sunlight can be damaging to the skin as well as your health due to the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, avoiding the sun altogether can also be harmful to your immunity. Our bodies get its natural dose of Vitamin D from sunlight, which is necessary for the proper functioning of T cells that contribute to immune defenses, as well as aids in calcium and bone metabolism.
- You lack sleep
Sleep is important as it is the time when your body recovers and refreshes itself for another run when you wake up. Reduced hours of sleep cause your body to take shortcuts into this recovery process, which leaves you with an immune system that is not fully optimized for the battles that it fights.
The University of Chicago’s researchers conducted a study and found that men who only had 4 hours of sleep a night for 1 week produced half the antibodies which are designed to fight flu in their bloodstream compared to those who slept twice as long.
- You carry negative emotions, or repress them
Being a pessimist makes you into a more emotionally-stressed person, and can make you indulge on behaviors that will negatively affect your health, such as smoking, taking drugs, or binge-drinking alcohol. It is believed that optimistic people take much better care of themselves, thus having a more boosted immune system, than their pessimist peers.
Pessimism can also give you heart problems. According to Dr. MikkoPankalainen of the Department of Psychiatry at Paijat-Hame Central Hospital in Lahti, Finland, pessimism “seems to be quite a significant risk factor for death from coronary heart disease, both in men and women, even after adjustments for the well-known classical risk factors of cardiovascular disease”.
Repressed emotions can also negatively impact the immune system. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that “psychosocial stressors which are met by inadequate and repressive coping styles are associated with changes in immunocompetence, including both humoral and cell-mediated immunity.”
- You bury yourself in stress
Contrary to popular belief, stress is actually normal and necessary in our lives, but an excess of acute or chronic stress is harmful. It brings about the rise of stress-related hormones such as cortisol as well as a decrease in other hormones and factors that would normally balance them out. When this happens, the immune system becomes overloaded, and thus, can’t function properly.
Extreme stress can also lower the natural killer cell count, make T-cells become sluggish, and diminish macrophage activity that usually amplifies the immune response.
- You smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly
Smoking is generally known to be bad for the health, not only for the smoker but to the ones around them as well. Cigarette smoke promotes the production of numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases immune hypersensitivity reactions. The chemicals in it also weaken innate defenses against pathogens and suppresses the immune system.
- You don’t exercise enough, or you exercise too much
Exercise supports the immune system and its functions. Without moderate exercise, your immune system suffers as it lacks the support it gets from physical activity. Macrophages, which are cells that attack bacteria that can trigger upper respiratory diseases, as well as the circulation of the cells that promote immunity are affected based on whether or not you exercise moderately.
Extreme or high-intensity exercise such as marathons or endurance races, however, can also negatively affect the immune system up to 72 hours afterwards. The cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body spike up during these kinds of exercises, which raises blood pressure, elevates cholesterol levels, and temporarily weaken the immune system.
- You binge-drink
Bing-drinking alcohol has a damaging effect on your body as alcohol destroys your antibodies that are necessary for fighting off viruses and infected cells. Alcohol is also a dehydrating agent, and it extracts water from the cells, which causes them to die. As noted by a 2015 study published in Alcohol — An International Biomedical Journal, “even a single episode of binge-drinking exerts effects on the immune system several hours to days after the episode.”If you find yourself doing any of these and are worried that you might never make a full recovery with your immune system, you don’t have to worry. This infographic by Euro-American Connections & homecare will help you get back on track and boost your immune system while also cutting down on the things that harm it in the first place.
Infographic Source: http://homecare4u.com/2016/12/9-tips-boost-immune-system-infographic/