Did you know that your everyday behaviors can boost your immune system? By that same logic, there are everyday behaviors that can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick.
Here is a list of behaviors that can weaken your immune system, along with ideas as to how to reverse those behaviors.
1) Avoid Sugar
This may be the most shocking on the list — simple sugars are found in abundance in highly processed foods, soda, sugary drinks and desserts.
In his article, “Harmful Effects of Excess Sugar,” Dr. William Sears said, “Excess sugar depresses immunity. Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body’s immune responses.”
Eating sugar starts to depress the immune system quickly. Sears said that the immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion, and may last for five hours.
A whole-food diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, complex carbohydrates, lean meats and healthy fats will support the immune system, instead of weakening it.
When you are feeling sick, making sure to get protein can help because proteins are the building blocks of the immune system.
2) Not Enough Sleep
Have you ever noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t feel well? Well, when you don't get enough sleep, it increases your stress hormone levels, which suppresses your immune system.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, research shows that “sleep helps sustain the functioning of the immune system, and that chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for immune system impairment.”
3) Don’t Forget to Exercise
Exercise is an important immune-boosting activity. In the WebMD.com article, “6 Immune System Busters & Boosters,” on boosting the immune system, “Exercise can also boost your body's feel-good chemicals and help you sleep better. Both of those are good for your immune system.”
According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, 45 minutes of brisk exercise five days per week can cause sickness rates to drop by half. When you sweat during exercise, your body produces a substance called dermcidin that prevents bacteria entering your body.
4) Stop Stressing
Stress is a normal part of life, but when you are constantly under stress, whether it is physical, emotional or mental, the release of stress hormones suppresses your immune system. The better you can manage your stress, the better it is for your immune system.
Consider exercise, meditation, getting enough sleep each night, and reducing your workload, to help you balance stress load.
Turn That Frown Upside Down
Laughter helps to relieve stress by decreasing the stress hormones that circulate in your body. Laughter also boosts the number of white bloods cells that are responsible for fight off infections.
According to an article entitled “Ways to Boost Your Immune System” on WedMD.com, “In one study, men were told 3 days in advance that they were going to watch a funny video. Their levels of stress hormones dropped.” So find something to make you laugh a lot when you are feeling sick.
Have you noticed that many of the immune boosters focus on reducing stress in the the body? Whether it is from mental stress that causes the release of stress hormones, or physical stress that creates inflammation, stress is the connecting factor.
The more you can become aware of stresses in your life, the better you can manage them, and create a healthier immune system.
Get Your Circulation Going
White blood cells are found in the bloodstream. They act as a surveillance system against bacteria, viruses, fungi and any other foreign invaders in the body.
The more you can improve your circulation, the better chance your immune system can take care of harmful microorganisms before they take you down with a cold.
Of course, running around the block can help with this. So can elevating your heart above your head, for instance, in gentle yoga poses. Jumping up and down on a trampoline can help, too.
Now that you are aware of how simple behaviors can boost your immune system, you can start incorporating them into your daily routine, and reduce your colds and flus this season!
Dr. Daemon Jones
Dr. Dae's website: www.HealthyDaes.com
Dr. Dae's Bio:
Dr. Daemon Jones is your diabetes reversal, hormones, metabolism and weight loss expert. Dr. Dae is a naturopathic doctor who treats patients all over the country using Skype and phone appointments. Visit her or schedule a free consultation at her website www.HealthyDaes.com
6 Immune System Busters & Boosters. WebMD.com December 28, 2015.
7 Immune Boosters You've Probably Overlooked. www.mindbodygreen.com December 28, 2015.
Harmful Effects of Excess Sugar. Askdrsears.com. December 28, 2015.
Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. National Sleep Foundation. December 30, 2015.
Reviewed January 3, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith