The human immune system is a symphony of cells, chemical signals and chemical reactions that work in harmony to protect your health. The main function of the immune system is identifying which cells in the body belong there, and which are foreign invaders, so that it can neutralize bad cells before they grow into more severe infections.
Most of us take our immune system for granted, as it fights off foreign invaders all day without our even realizing it. But you may be doing your immune system a disservice by indulging in bad habits that weaken its natural disease-fighting ability. Let’s take a look at a few habits you may need to quit in order to better maintain your immune system.
Heavy Drinking and Drug Use
The term “alcohol poisoning” isn’t a euphemism. It accurately describes the effects of alcohol on your body. Ethanol, the chemical compound that composes alcohol, is in fact toxic. And if you drink enough of it, it can seriously damage your cells, weakening your ability to fight off disease. When it comes to imbibing, moderation is key to maintaining a strong immune system. We at SQUAY recommend no alcohol for long term health.
Stress and Sleep Deprivation
When we are stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. In the short term, cortisol gives us a boost of energy that helps us get past the immediate stressor. But in the long-run, too much cortisol in our system suppresses the immune system. This is why many college students get sick right after exam week. To ensure your cortisol levels are healthy, be sure you are getting enough sleep. Ideally 7 1/2 hours per night. It’s better to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier as it will help you start your day productively and avoid nighttime eating.
Not Eating a Well-Balanced Diet
Eating well isn’t just a trend, it’s necessary for supplying your cells with all the nutrients they need. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that neutralize cancer-causing chemicals. Starches and sugars give you energy. A complete set of amino acids from a variety of high protein foods allows your immune system to produce antibodies and chemical signals. And fats are an integral part of cell structures. Over time, skimping on any of these macro- or micro-nutrients can weaken both your immune system and your overall organ function.
Your cardiovascular system, that network of veins and arteries that circulate blood through your body, is responsible for carrying white blood cells—the Navy SEALS of your immune system. White blood cells are deployed to fight-off infections wherever they occur, so in order for your immune system to fulfill its duty, your body requires healthy, dependable circulation.
A surefire way to support circulation is regular exercise. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at risk of impeding blood flow, making it harder for white blood cells to reach areas of infection as fast as possible.
Show your support!
The human immune system is truly a natural wonder. But you can’t take its capacity for battling infections for granted. Make sure you are doing your part to support the immune system by forming consistent, healthy habits.