8 things that weaken your immune system

8 things that weaken your immune system

Do you often suffer from common cold or viral flu? Then it's time you learned to bolster your immune system.

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Updated : August 27, 2014 12:50 PM IST

8 things that lower immunityDo you often suffer from common cold or viral flu? Do you keep feeling lazy and weak all the time?

If your answer is 'yes', then there's a good chance that you have a poor immune system. Several factors like diet, lifestyle and emotional health, play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Here are eight things that are often responsible for lowering your immunity:

1. Lack of proper hygiene: Viruses and bacteria are present everywhere and they never ever miss opportunities to attack humans. Lack of personal hygiene is one such factor that gives these pathogens a chance to multiply in the body and cause an infection. So, if you want to stay away from infections, basic things like washing the hands before every meal and after visiting the washroom, taking a bath, wearing clean clothes and drinking water from a clean source is important.

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2. Lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet: In order to function optimally, your immune system needs micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And, all of them can be obtained only through a balanced, healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. A large number of studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain compounds that boost immunity by increasing the production of immune cells (T cells) or by promoting their phagocytic (to kill the pathogens) activity.

3. Stress: There are than 300 studies that have explored the impact of stress on immunity in humans, and there seems to be some sort of consensus that physiological stressors have the ability to modify immune responses against infections. The 'fight or flight' response that sets in during stressful situation like exams, divorce, work pressure and financial issues down-regulate the synthesis of certain immunological molecules, weakening the immune system.

4. Smoking: Cigarette smoke affects both innate (inborn) and adaptive (developed) immunity. It decreases the levels of anti-inflammatory molecules released for activation of immune cells. Moreover, it is also linked to a higher risk of autoimmune diseases.

5. Heavy drinking: While mild to moderate drinking once in a while is advisable, if you start drinking heavily your body might develop the tendency to acquire infections. Alcohol is actually a dehydrating agent which extracts water from the cells to kill them. Heavy intake of alcohol is not only linked to compromised immunity but also dysfunction of the specific immune response.

6. Being overweight: Obesity is linked to several other factors like poor diet and lack of exercise which lower immunity. It can even affect the production of antibodies and the multiplication of white blood cells. Some studies suggest that obese individuals have poor antibody responses and lowered T-cells function, making them prone to infections.

7. Physical inactivity: Exercise is the ultimate key to a healthy life. If you perform moderate physical activity at least five times a week you could have better immune response towards infections. Moderate physical activity has been found to stimulate both the production as well as the activity of immune cells.

8. Lack of sleep: Without sufficient sleep, your immune system fails to restore its defence abilities. All molecules that signal immune processes are present in the brain. If you don't sleep properly, your brain is affected, which indirectly result in impaired immune system

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