1. Not Drinking Enough Water
We could write 10 blog posts on just how amazing water is for the body, but we’ll try to summarize it here in just a paragraph or two. The #1 thing we recommend to our patients (other than stretching) is to drink water.
The human body is made of 75% water and can survive only about 7 days without it. Water is ESSENTIAL to flush out toxins in the body and, you can probably figure out, that being dehydrated keeps these toxins around way longer than they should be. Not being able to remove these toxins lowers our immune systems and makes us very prone to catching any bug that may be going around.
So how much water are you supposed to drink? Half your body weight in ounces of water, daily! Even more is required if you’re out in the hot Miami sun or doing physical activity.
Smoking is a nasty habit that, by now, we are all aware of is terrible for our health. But it’s not just good old fashion Marlboro’s that lower our immune systems, it’s any nicotine from chewing tobacco or even through vaping!
Nicotine, along with all the other chemicals that are included in regular and e-cigarettes are the perfect cocktail to lower your immune system, with each and every puff.
So, quit smoking TODAY, not just for your immune system, but to prevent cancer and live a longer, healthier life!
3. Too Much Stress
Good old stress…it’s truly a silent killer. High levels of chronic stress can cause SO many detrimental issues that can affect our mood, posture, relationships, and overall quality of life.
Stress is essentially the body feeling as if it were in fight-or-flight mode. Think about what your body would do if you were about to be attacked by a bear: your heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure increase, your muscles tighten up, and you are ready to RUN!
A little stress can be a good thing if you have a deadline, but if your body is constantly in this state, it can be in trouble. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce different hormones that literally suppress the immune system. This then creates an immune system that cannot properly fight off all the bugs that get thrown our way.
4. Lack of Vitamin D
Many patients are surprised to hear this one and we often don’t think about it, especially living in Miami. Yet, many patients even in the sunshine state are Vitamin D deficient, which has been found to lower our immune systems.
The process of just how Vitamin D boosts immunity is far too complex to explain in a paragraph, (and you’ll probably fall asleep). If you want to nerd out and read a research article, you can do so here. Basically, Vitamin D enhances the function of immune cells that protect the body against all the bugs that may be floating around.
Obviously we can get Vitamin D from the sun, but who really has the time to sit around at the pool or beach all the time? Truth be told, you really only need to be in the sun 2-3 times a week for 10 minutes in order to get enough. You can also get it in eggs, fatty fish, milk or a well-produced supplement. The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D is 600 IU, but children over 9 can take up to 2,000IU daily (consult your physician for what is best for you).
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
How much sleep are you getting nightly? Be honest with yourself here. Are you staying up wayyyyy binge watching Netflix? Unless you have a newborn baby or young children, then sleep should be of utmost priority to you. Why? Because lack of sleep actually lowers your immune system!
“Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
So how much sleep should you get? Everyone is different and some people may function great on 6.5 hours while other adults need 8. Teenagers may need 10+.
Pro Tip: for quality sleep, don’t look at any electornic devices 2 hours before bed. You’ll fall asleep much faster because you’re not exposed to the blue light from devices. Additionally, PLEASE don’t sleep with your TV on, which has been proven to decrease quality of sleep.
6. Skipping Your Fruits and Veggies
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak and cake just as much as the next person. But, you better be sure that I’m pairing my steak with a salad and/or a side of veggies. Why? Because the vitamins we get from fruits and veggies are ESSENTIAL for proper immune function.
When you eat fruits and veggies, they help your body produce more white blood cells= infection fighters. There are countless amounts of vitamins in fruits and veggies like Vitamin A, C, E, zinc, beta-cartone and so much more.
Fun Fact: Fruits and veggies are also filled withfiber, which makes you feel fuller for longer, thus helping you maintain a healthy weight. There is some serious evidence that shows that having a higher amount of adipose tissue, i.e. obesity, impacts immune system function. You can read more about that here.
7. Too Much Alcohol Consumption
I’m as sad writing this as you are reading it. Oh boy do we love a good glass of prosecco, or a great Tom Collins. We even love sipping on draught beer while watching football. Fortunately, a few drinks won’t really do a lot of damage (whew), but overdoing alcohol consumption prevents your body from fighting germs up to 24 hours afterward.
“In recent decades, (excessive alcohol consumption) has been expanded to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and certain cancers; a higher incidence in postoperative complications; a lower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing.
So, the moral of this story is that you can have a glass of wine with dinner, just not the entire bottle. Isn’t moderation the key to life anyway?
Well, there you have it! 7 things that may be weaking your immune system. With Covid-19 wreaking havoc and the flu season approaching, why not switch up all of these for healthier choices so you can live a happier and healthier life, because nobody likes a mister sniffles!
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