Your immune system plays a vital role for your mind and body. It’s officially the body’s defense mechanism, protecting you against pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms. Moreover, the immune system also monitors the health of every organ system in the body to replace older, less functional cells with rejuvenated, healthy, new cells.
Think of it as also serving a "housekeeping" function throughout your body, in addition to defending it against unwanted microbes and foreign substances.
When your immune system is weak, you’re more susceptible to viruses and infections. As we’re going into fall, it’s important to be vigilant about staying as healthy as possible.
No matter what time of year it is or what pathogens are flying through the air, it’s important to understand the factors that may weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible.
#1 - For Starters, Stress Could be Making You Sick
“Mind over matter” is not simply a catchphrase. It has way more to do with your overall health than you’ve probably ever been taught.
There are more than 300 science-based articles describing the relationship between psychological stress and the immune system. Within those articles, it is noted time and time again that chronic stressors have been associated with the suppression of the immune system and that we’re all more vulnerable to disease during times of amplified stress.
Put simply, the brain and the immune system are in constant communication — when this delicate balance is challenged and/or disrupted by physical and emotional stress, this can trigger adverse health conditions.
Medical research has even claimed that stress may be responsible for as much as 90 percent of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
The current public health and economic environment is an example of a particularly stressful and anxiety-inducing life event that can have a tremendous negative impact on your immune system. It’s vital during this time to find proactive ways to move beyond the pandemic mentality. Reducing stress is a must.
Relationships can also be a huge source of serious long-term health problems. Taking a close look at which people in your life inspire you and which drain is extremely important for keeping the immune system in check.
When you’re constantly stressed by daily events and the people in your life, it’s more than just your overall mood that suffers.
According to an article by the Cleveland Clinic, your immune system’s physical response to chronic stress is the overproduction of cortisol, which leads to chronic, systemic inflammation. A healthy inflammation response is a vital part of promoting wellness, but it must be well-controlled and given the tools it needs to resolve.
What’s even more alarming is that chronic inflammation can also raise your chances of developing serious health conditions such as fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
#2 - Processed Foods Can Also Wreak Havoc
As much as we all love our chips, sodas, and fast food (i.e. Double-Doubles from In-N-Out Burger or McDonald’s french fries), they’re a sure and quick way to surrender amazing health, get stick, gain weight, or all of the above.
An alarming study published in the journal BMJ found that 60 percent of the calories the average American consumes come from ultra-processed foods. Sure, these foods may appeal to your taste buds, but we’re all depriving our bodies of the nutrients they need most.
Not to mention, the additives they contain — hydrogenated oils, processed sugar, artificial flavors, and emulsifiers.
The Nutrition Journal also reported that an over-indulgence on processed foods compromises the immune system, increasing your risk for obesity type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
#3 - Carcinogens Are All Around Us
As you are probably already aware, a carcinogen is something that causes cancer.
They’re everywhere around us — from polluted air, to chemicals we use to clean, and harmful toxins in the food we eat.
When the immune system is down, carcinogens can trigger once healthy cells to become cancerous.
Thankfully, we can all make reasonable decisions to avoid excessive exposure, such as kicking smoking habits, avoiding exercise outside on smoggy days, reducing alcohol intake, and more.
But, it’s important to understand that we will never be able to fully stay away from carcinogens. Each and every day we’re going to be exposed to thm in one form or another — so reducing stress levels, calming the mind, sleeping, exercising, and getting the right nutrients into our bodies is a must.
#4 - Pesticides Should Be Avoided When Possible
Crop spraying uses chemical substances to kill unwanted fungi, weeds, and insects have been directly linked to disorders of the immune system. Additionally, they have neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and hormone-disrupting capabilities.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information identified an association between exposure to crop spraying and pesticides and harmful effects on the immune system, including respiratory irritations, rashes, headaches, and asthma attacks.
Eating organic if possible is a great step to protecting your immune system.
#5 - Sleep Is a Wonder Booster
When you lack proper sleep, your body has a hard time making infection-fighting cells and proteins (called antibodies and cytokines) to defend against illness. This makes you more likely to catch viruses and germs, and it could take longer for you to get well.
Researchers say that adequate sleep also helps T cells in your body fight off infection.
T cells play an important role in the body’s immune system. When they recognize a virally infected cell, these immuno-warriors activate what are called integrins, a sticky type of protein, that allow them to kill infected cells!
Not getting enough ZZZ’s?
Stress hormones may hinder the ability of T cells to effectively function. Additionally, poor sleep can increase inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, cortisol, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease, as well as decrease blood sugar regulation.
If you have a hard time sleeping, you may be not getting the right nutrients, your sleep environment may not be sleep-inspiring, and/or you may be staring at your phone screen when you should be preparing for sleep with a good old fashioned book or meditation session.
#6 - Could Your Oral Health Be an Issue?
Our mouths are the entry-way to our digestive and respiratory system. Poor oral hygiene can place huge burdens on our immune systems.
Bacterial infections, tooth decay, and gum disease can all cause inflammation in the body.
For example, if periodontal disease inspires gum infections that aren’t properly treated, the immune system could become compromised and weaken over time making it less effective at fighting incoming threats.
Yes, there are lots of factors that play a role in staying healthy and safeguarding your vitality. Don’t get too overwhelmed, it’s all about making powerful decisions at key moments and making step-by-step improvements in your daily routine.
If you’re looking for a simple, yet profound way to revitalize your immune system, 23Vitals comes to the rescue by priming your immune system to be resilient and ready for whatever the world sends your way.
When combined with a balanced approach to healthy living, it’s possible to exponentially amplify your chances of enhancing your immune system.
We all have so much more power than we know!
You’ve got this!