It’s hard enough to keep your immune system in tip top shape, but winter months and cold and flu season put it to the real test. Eating right, exercising often and getting regular chiropractic adjustments all help, but there’s even more you can do. Give your immune system a boost by avoiding these sometimes-surprising immune system saboteurs:
Dehydration. Without proper hydration, our bodies have a tough time flushing away immune system-damaging toxins. The most accurate sign you’re getting all the water you need is urine that is clear and light yellow in color every time you go—even first thing in the morning. If not, increase the amount of water you drink until you achieve regular pale yellow results.
Inadequate sleep. While sleeping, your body has time to heal and rebuild, preparing it and your immune system for the next healthy day. A 2009 Carnegie Mellon study showed the chance of catching a cold may as much as triple for people who get less than seven hours of sleep at night. Avoid late nights and all-nighters as much as possible to help keep your immune system strong.
Loneliness. Ohio State researchers recently discovered that anxiety over chronic relationships has the same effect as chronic stress and suppresses your immune system from functioning at his highest level. If you’re feeling isolated, find ways to bring more social activity into your life. Join a networking group or volunteer. You’ll be surprised how quickly you make new friends.
Antibiotics. Cytokines, messenger cells that help regulate or change other cells to evoke an immune response, rapidly decrease while taking antibiotics. While there is certainly a time and place for antibiotic medication, don’t seek it for a cold, flu or other type of virus. Instead, manage cold symptoms by boosting your water and vitamin C intake and listening to your body when it needs extra rest.
Extra weight. It’s common knowledge that obesity increases your risk of many illnesses, but new studies show that obesity can also contribute to immune system dysfunction. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways to reach your ideal weight. Or search Be Well for posts focused on healthy weight loss. Get started here.
Nonstick chemicals. Chemicals commonly used in nonstick cookware can release toxic fumes and raise levels of hormone-disrupting perfluorinated compounds in the blood stream. A study published in Environmental health Perspectives found an increased risk of the autoimmune disease osteoarthritis in women with these elevated levels. If you can, ditch nonstick pans for cast iron or stainless steel. And remember, these same chemicals are used in microwave popcorn, so make the switch to traditional popcorn on the stovetop.
Processed foods. It’s no secret processed foods are bad for us. Chock full of additives, pesticides and preservatives, these compounds weaken the body’s ability to fend off illness. Take a serious look at the contents of your pantry and fridge. Ditch or donate processed items and replace with fruits, veggies and lean proteins.
Sugar. We hear it all the time that sugar is bad for our health. The truth is there are many scientifically based studies that prove just that. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eating 100 grams of sugar—roughly the amount in a regular soft drink or sweetened yogurt—significantly reduced the immune system’s ability to kill bacteria for up to five hours. Pay close attention to everywhere sugar lurks, even breads, dressings and condiments, and find ways to reduce your intake.