Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get completely knocked out by colds, flu and illness while others get through season with barely a sniffle? It all comes down to your immune system and how well you’ve armed your body in the battle to stay well. Some of these habits are pretty surprising.
- You have a sweet tooth. Eating too much sugar isn’t just bad for your waistline. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 100gm of sugar significantly hampered the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria for up to 5 hours afterward.
- You don’t drink enough water. There’s a reason your mother told you to drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick. Your body needs a tremendous amount of water to flush out toxins.
- You’re overweight. Excess weight is unhealthy for your immune system. It can cause inflammation and serious hormonal imbalances that impair the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
- You’re sleep deprived. Sleep is crucial for proper functioning of your immune system. Your body does a lot of healing and fighting infection while you’re sound asleep. Studies show that lack of sleep negatively affects your T-cell count, which compromises your ability to combat viruses.
- You’re super stressed. It’s no coincidence that you tend to catch a cold or the flu after a big work deadline. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens the responses of your immune system.
So, what can you do?
- Moderate exercise. Exercise increases blood flow and improves your body’s ability to fight infection. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight.
- Get enough sleep and manage stress. Sleep deprivation and stress overload increase the hormone cortisol, prolonged elevation of which suppresses immune function.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, which will provide your body with the nutrients your immune system needs. A study in older adults showed that boosting fruit and vegetable intake improved antibody response to the Pneumovax vaccine, which protects against Streptococcus pneumonia.
- Take Vitamin C – Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is found in citrus fruits and many vegetables, and may boost the immune system by attacking the nucleic acid of a virus.