Vitality

What Is Immune System? 5 Ways You Weaken The Ability To Fight Diseases

The activities we do in our day-to-day lives may result in a weak immune system. And, an underactive and poor-performing immune system may lead to several diseases and illnesses.

The immune system’s prime function is to protect the body against infection. The enhancement and strengthening of the immune system is a vital step to achieve resistance to diseases as well as to reduce chances of getting diseases like cold, flu and cancer. Individuals need to be involved in a health-promoting lifestyle, adopt stress management, exercise, have a proper diet and appropriately use nutritional supplements and herbal medicines for a strong immune system. However, there are several ways in which we end up weakening our immune system.

Immune system Being too clean isn't what's making us sick. Arlington County, CC BY-SA 2.0

  • STRESS: According to the National Cancer Institute, prolonged periods of intense stress can affect the immune system. John Spangler, MD, a professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, reportedly says that stress causes the brain to boost the production of the hormone cortisol, which weakens the function of the infection-fighting T cells. People should adopt stress-relieving activities in order to help their immune system.
  • POOR SLEEP: This is strongly associated with poor immune system function and reduces the number of killer cells that fight germs. University of Chicago researchers found in a study that men who slept only four hours a night for one week produced half the amount of flu-fighting antibodies in their blood compared with those who slept 7-8 hours.
  • ALCOHOL:  John Spangler believes that excessive intake of alcohol may reduce the immune system's response to invading pathogens. "Alcohol’s major metabolite, acetaldehyde, likely impairs ciliary function in the lungs, making them more prone to bacterial and viral invasion," he explains.
  • POOR DIET: Excessive consumption of refined sugars and highly processed food containing pesticides, chemical additives and preservatives can weaken the immune system. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the ability to kill white blood cells was harmed after eating 100 gm of sugar. 
  • OBESITY: Obesity can lead to a weakened immune system as it affects the ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies and prevent inflammation.
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