The immune system is your body’s number one defense mechanism. In fact, your immune system and your health are directly related.
The stronger your immune system is, the more protection you will have against colds, viruses and other illnesses that could attack your body.
On the other hand, a weak immunity can make you more vulnerable to frequent colds, sinus infections, recurring infections and slow wound healing, as well as causing anemia, fatigue and lethargy.
This is why health experts strongly advise making choices that promote a strong immune system.
Your diet and regular exercise play a key role in how well your immune system functions. But you may be surprised to learn that many common daily habits actually harm your immune system.
In fact, most of your daily habits directly impact your immune system, especially as you age. To keep your immune system strong, it’s important to adopt healthy habits and quit the bad ones.
Here are the 10 daily habits that harm your immune system.
1. Being a Night Owl
If you work nights or like watching television or doing projects late into the night, you may have a weak immunity.
Poor sleep habits lower the immune system’s functioning and reduce your level of killer cells that fight germs.
Sleep deprivation also reduces the production of protective cytokines. While you sleep, your immune system releases different types of cytokines that help protect your body against infections and diseases.
In a 2017 study published in Sleep, researchers took blood samples from 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns and found that the twin with shorter sleep duration had a depressed immune system compared with his or her sibling.
Avoid scrimping on sleep. Be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep daily.
2. Neglecting Personal Hygiene
When it comes to a good immune system, proper hygiene is a must. If you neglect your personal hygiene, your immune system will surely suffer.
Unhygienic habits increase the risk of being exposed to harmful germs, which in turn makes you susceptible to more infections and diseases.
Practice good hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily, washing your hands before eating and after using the bathroom, keeping your nails clean, taking a shower daily, cooking food in a hygienic manner, wearing clean clothes and more. It can go a long way in boosting your immunity.
Avoid using other people’s belongings, as germs and viruses can be transmitted by sharing things that are for personal use only.
3. Using Public Objects
You may try your best to keep your home clean and hygienic. But what happens when you go out?
Some of the dirtiest public places and items are restaurant menus, condiment dispensers, restroom door handles, soap dispensers, grocery carts, communal pens like at the bank, airplane bathrooms and so on. They can all be intermediaries, transmitting viruses and bacteria from person to person.
Avoid touching public objects to cut your risk of picking up easily spread cold and flu germs. Carry your own pen, paper, tissue papers, water bottle and other important things when you go out.
Also, disinfect your hands when you leave a public space.
4. Overdosing on Sugar
If you often eat or drink something sweet to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can suffer from a weak immunity.
Refined sugar can reduce the ability of the white blood cells to kill germs. Sugar prevents vitamin C from getting into the white blood cells, resulting in weakened immunity.
Interestingly, the immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts within 30 minutes after ingestion and may last for hours.
If you need to eat something sweet, opt for fruits like oranges, apples, mangos, kiwis, watermelon, strawberries and others that contain natural sugars to satisfy your craving. The vitamin C in these fruits also will help your immune system work properly.
5. Forgetting to Drink Water
When you are busy working, you may be like many people who forget to drink water.
The human body is mostly made of water, and if you don’t drink enough to replenish what your body needs, it will surely affect your immune system. Proper hydration is essential for a strong immunity.
In a 2013 animal study published in Frontiers in Zoology, researchers concluded that depending on the life history of an organism, osmotic state may have a greater influence on immune function than energy availability.
A healthy person should drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. However, the amount of water you need to drink may depend upon the climate in which you live, how physically active you are, and your overall health.
6. Drinking Alcoholic Beverages Daily
If you like to have a few drinks at the end of each day, it’s a habit that is harming your immune system.
Drinking too much alcohol actually weakens or kills some of the antibody cells needed to destroy virus-infected cells. Excess alcohol consumption also impedes the production of white and red blood cells, which weakens your immune system over time.
Alcoholic drinks have a lot of negative health effects, since alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies.
In a 2015 study published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, researchers found that alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex and seemingly paradoxical ways. These disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from a tissue injury.
If you need to drink, do it in moderation and keep track of the number of drinks consumed.