Your immune system is like an armored knight protecting you from infections and germs. However, your knight needs the right training and equipment.
In families who have excessive cleaning practices, young children never get the chance to be exposed to germs before they finally go to school. Germ exposure may be unpleasant, especially for babies and young children, as they get sick frequently. But it is all part of the immune response training. The sooner the immune system gets familiar with some bacteria and infection types, the sooner it can learn to defend itself against those. However, the principle only applies to minor and harmless bugs.
The second crucial factor about your immune system is equipping it. Training can speed up the immunologic response. Yet, an inadequately equipped immune system is weak and unable to defend itself. Your lifestyle choices will be instrumental in protecting the immune system.
#1. Nutrient deficiency
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to maintain its functions, including the immune system response. Choosing healthy food can help bring essential nutrients to your diet.
However, when it comes to vitamins, it’s important to understand how the cooking method will affect them. Vitamin C is both heat-sensitive and water-soluble. In other terms, it means that cooking methods involving either dry or wet heat will expel vitamin C from the food. Therefore, it can be helpful to consider taking supplements, such as multivitamins for teens, adults, or kids, depending on your age group.
#2. Sleep deprivation
How much sleep do you need every night? According to experts, adults need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep on average. While you may assume that you can function with little sleep — as long as you take a strong coffee —, it isn’t an accurate statement. Lack of sleep dramatically affects all your body functions, and can hurt your immune system. Studies show that lack of sleep increases the risk of catching diseases and lengthens recovery time. Indeed, the immune system releases cytokines, which promote infection and inflammation defense, when you sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, the production of cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies decreases.
#3. High stress levels
The stress hormone, cortisol, actively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system by bringing the number of white blood cells. White blood cells work by fighting off viruses and bacteria. When the number drops, the immune system can still recognize most invasions but becomes unable to stop them.
As stress can lead to sleep difficulties, the impact on the immune system can be long-lasting.
#4. Excessive weight
According to recent studies, obesity could dramatically affect your immune system by decreasing the chances of fighting infections. Obesity reduces the ability to perform essential immune responses, such as cytokine production.
#5. Lack of exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing health complications, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and even cancer. Exercising and health maintenance go hand-in-hand, as regular physical activities can boost your immune function. A passive lifestyle will decrease the function and divide the immunologic strength through health issues.
Improving your immune response doesn’t need a miracle. It is all about establishing a healthy routine that reduces health risks. Will a stronger immune system protect you from all common infections and colds? The answer is: With a strong immune system, your body could avoid minor illnesses and even have a better fighting chance against more serious diseases.