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Unexpected Ways You’re Weakening Your Immune System

  • Posted On:
  • Written By: St. John's Medical Center
Unexpected Ways You’re  Weakening Your Immune System

Are You Damaging Your Immune System?

There’s nothing worse than waking up with a stuffy nose or a sore throat—especially when you think you’ve been taking good care of your body. While we know behaviors such as eating healthy and getting exercise can have a positive impact on our health, we don't realize how other bad habits compromise it. Here some of the top ways you may be compromising your immune system.

Excessive Stress

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress for any prolonged period of time (from a few days to a few years), causes all aspects of immunity to decrease.

Long-term exposure to stress can exasperate this reaction, resulting in a weakened immune system. To effectively reduce stress, introduce these healthy coping mechanisms into your daily routine:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Yoga and other exercises

You’re Too Clean

If you wash your hands too often or use hand sanitizers excessively, you can hinder your body’s ability to fight off diseases and infection. Finding a happy medium between being unhygienic and overclean is important to maintain an effective immune system and build up your immunity to germs and bacteria.

Stick to using warm soap and water to wash your hands when necessary and use hand sanitizer when this option is not available.

Sedentary Lifestyle

According to Medline Plus, getting regular moderate exercise helps your body to flush out bacteria from the respiratory system, causes white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, prevents bacteria growth, and slows down the release of stress hormones. Moderate exercises can include:

  • Daily 30 minute walks
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Hiking
  • Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

While getting regular exercise can have many health benefits, be careful not to over-do it. Long term, intense exercise can make the body more vulnerable to infection.

Unhealthy Diet

It’s common knowledge that the things we eat influence our health; however, when eating foods high in saturated fats, salt, and sugars, it can harm the immune system. Maintaining an unhealthy diet can hinder the function of and reduce your white blood cell count.

The following foods can be incorporated into your diet to help to boost your immune system:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli

Primary Care in Jackson, Wilson, and Teton County

From family medicine to internal medicine, our Primary Care Providers (PCP) are here to openly listen to your concerns and work with you to achieve overall better health and wellness. See the types of primary care we provide or to find a doctor, today!