Your immune system is made up of interconnected organs, tissues and cells that work protect and repair your body from the inside out. From potential invaders, to an inflammatory trigger that can occur from a small cut or sunburn, your body's immune response will become activated, allowing it to get to work to keep you well and recover quickly.
In a weakened immune system, however, this response can be suppressed, leaving you more vulnerable. There are a number of factors that affect immunity, but let's take a look at five weak immune system causes, and solutions to boost your natural defenses.
Smoking cigarettes increases your exposure to high levels of toxic chemicals. Cigarettes contain toxins like formaldehyde, nicotine, arsenic and ammonia, all of which are harmful to the immune system. Smoking is a stressor on the body; it increases the generation of free radicals and oxidative stress that require additional nutrients to buffer the effects. The increased nutrient demand can leave you more susceptible to illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., with over 480,000 lives lost to smoking per year. Inhaling any type of smoke is harmful as it increases lung exposure to tar.
Solution: While the best solution is to give up smoking, if you do smoke, providing additional immune support becomes even more important. Include a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables daily, rich sources of vitamin C; a potent anti-oxidant and consider following a heavy metal detox protocol, with powerful chelating agents that attach to heavy metals and biofilm disruptors to eliminate toxins safely from your body.
A diet high in processed foods and low in fresh, nutrient-dense foods can have a negative effect on your immune system. The increased demand that unhealthy foods place on your body can lead to lowered immunity and adverse health challenges with weight management, digestive health, and cognitive function.
Solution: Avoid/limit processed foods by replacing them with whole foods rich in essential nutrients. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that act as powerful antioxidants, that support the immune system. Processed foods that contain sugar, white flour and unhealthy fats lack essential nutrients and affect the body's ability to fight off illness. Eating a variety of chemical-free, whole foods is the first defense in minimizing deficiencies and is a great way to support your immune system overall. Supportive supplementation can also be largely beneficial in ensuring nutrient stores are topped up and your immune system has all the raw materials it needs to function optimally.
To assess your individual nutrient levels and address any underlying imbalances you can run a simple at home lab test and work with a certified health practitioner with a personalized wellness plan designed for you.
Being on certain types of medication long-term has been shown to potentially reduce the body's natural immune defenses, meaning you may be at a higher risk of becoming unwell.
Solution: As with the other top weak immune system causes, it's important to identify the underlying root cause behind the signs or symptoms you may be experiencing as any imbalance can often be linked back to nutrient deficiencies or accumulated toxicities and understanding how your body became imbalanced in the first place you can work alongside a healthcare practitioner to rebalance your body in a more supportive way.
Restorative sleep is imperative for keeping your immune system in good health. Research shows a lack of sleep disrupts immune function and is linked to both short- and long-term health issues. Sleep loss can also potentially lead to a higher risk of illness, according to the CDC.
Solution: Prioritize sleep. The body needs approximately seven to nine hours of sleep each night in order to regenerate and repair, key factors for a healthy immune system. Healthy sleep actually helps boost immune cells, while lack of sleep releases stress hormones that inhibit immune cell activity. Developing good sleep hygiene will set up your immune system for a robust response when it needs it most.
While diet and sleep may seem like obvious contributors to your immune health, your emotions are also an important factor. Chronic psychological stress is linked to immune suppression, as it contributes to a persistent inflammatory response and high cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Solution: Prioritize ways to destress. Seek appropriate guidance from a qualified practitioner to support emotional trauma you may have experienced or persistent high levels of stress. Regular exercise, spending time in nature, journaling, tai chi and meditation can also help reduce elevated stress hormone levels, which, in turn, support immune health. A nutritious diet and supportive supplementation can also help the body to cope with stress more effectively.
When we understand how the immune system defenses become weakened we see that there is a lot we can do to safeguard our health. Incorporating daily nutrition and lifestyle changes and doing an in-depth assessment of our potential nutrient deficiencies or accumulated toxicities can all put having a robust immune system well within reach.
Now more than ever we are told the importance of boosting our immunity and what we need to do. Take a listen to this podcast to learn about the 7 Immune Boosting Organs in Your Body to understand how these recommendations keep us healthy.