Do you get sick often? Always taking sick days off from work? When do you get sick, does it put you out of commission for days on end?
Chances are you may have a weak immune system. Of course, there are diseases like diabetes, cancer, and AIDS, that will weaken your immune system that are generally out of your control. But for the average person that does not have one of these conditions, how we treat our bodies will indirectly affect the ability of our immune system to fight off diseases and illness.
Naturally, we are all born with different levels of immune systems – some stronger than others. But our daily environment also plays a role in how effective our immune system can be.
Weaker immune systems make us more vulnerable to any illness that affects humans. Repeated infections, inflammation, slow wound healing, and fatigue can all be caused by a weak immune system. If your body is not prepared to fight off invaders, you are going to get sick more often than the average person.
There are many things that can depress your immune system. Any one of the factors below can result in an immune system that does not work as well as it should, while a combination of these bad habits means you’re doing a lot of damage to your immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
Too Much Sugar – The average American consumes a lot of sugar – much more than our Paleolithic ancestors, and much more than our foreign counterparts. On average, Americans consume an amazing 100 pounds of sugar per year. We eat this much sugar because of our love of soda drinks, sweets, and processed foods. In the 19th century, where cardiovascular diseases and cancer were not nearly as common, sugar intake was only about 5 pounds per year.
So how does all of this sugar harm our immune system? Studies show that a bad sugar habit can cause mood swings, personality changes, enhance nervous disorders, cause diabetes (of course), speed up the rate of heart disease, and so on and so forth.
Sugar is devoid of any minerals, vitamins, and fiber, so when we ingest sugar our body has to use its own stores to digest it. When your body runs out of its own stores, cholesterol and fatty acid metabolization is slowed. Basically, sugar brings your immune system to a halt.
If you want a more technical answer on why sugar is so bad for our health, this is a great article on the harmful effects of sugar.
Obesity – We all know obesity leads to all types of health problems. This ties into the “too much sugar” issue as well. Once you are considered obese your immune system will suffer.
It is known that obesity has an affect on the immune system, but researchers are still trying to figure out the exact reasons.
Research performed on laboratory mice has shown that obesity prevents the body from turning on its immune system properly, making it more vulnerable to infection. In fact, obese mice were 50 percent less capable of killing the flu virus, compared to lean mice. The research seems to show that the same is true in humans. – Source
Early research shows that, in mice, the T-cells and macrophages (which make up the immune system cells), are not correct in obese mice. The amount of healthy white blood cells (macrophages being white blood cells) are much lower in obese mice as well.
Excessive Alcohol – Most people enjoy a drink once in a while, but if you are drinking a bit too much, it will harm your immune system’s ability to fight off illness. For one, alcohol does not provide any nutrients, which causes a nutrient deficiency (just like sugar). This means that your body has fewer nutrients to nourish the cells that make up your immune system. In addition, and once again just like sugar, excessive alcohol reduces the ability of white blood cells to kill germs.
Smoking – There aren’t many health benefits to smoking. Aside from the high of a nicotine buzz, it is pretty much common sense that smoking harms the body and has no real benefits. When it comes to the immune system, smoking causes more risk for influenza and pneumonia. Smokers also take more time to recover from an illness because it represses the ability of the immune system to function properly.
The above causes of a weak immune system are all within our control. We have the power to help our immune system function better. If you are always getting sick, you now know why if you are guilty of one of the above causes.