How to Improve Your Immune System and Protect Against Infectious Illness

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There’s nothing worse that waking up one morning with plans of going about your normal routine, only to discover that you’ve caught a cold, flu or some other infectious illness. Depending on the specific type of infection and how it affects your body, you may be forced to spend the day — or several days — in bed as you wait for it to pass. In some cases, you may need antibiotics to clear up the infection, especially if it’s a bacterial infection. You can reduce your risk of becoming sick, however, by nurturing your body’s immune system in the following ways.

 

What Is the Immune System?

The immune system is a complex network of white blood cells, bodily chemicals, tissues and organs that are specifically designed to protect against infectious illness and foreign invaders. It works around the clock to keep us safe from infection. When infection-causing bacteria or virus attempts to invade your body, your immune system will attempt to neutralize it. It seeks out and attacks the trespassing pathogen with lymphocytes and other compounds that kill infections.

Unfortunately, the immune system isn’t always 100 percent effective at protecting against infection. If you have weak or suppressed immune system, it may struggle to neutralize foreign pathogens, resulting in the spread of infection. This is why it’s important to give your immune system a helping hand.

 

Exercise Regularly

Staying physically active is essential to your health. Among other things, it promotes a healthy weight while subsequently reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It’s a little-known fact, however, that exercise — or lack thereof — also affects the immune system. According to one study, exercise boosts the immune system by lowering levels of inflammatory cytokines. So, how much exercise do you need to support a healthy, active immune system? Aim for the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) recommendations of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise each week.

 

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), tobacco cigarettes contain roughly 600 unique ingredients. When burned, however, a series of chemical reactions occur that create many additional chemicals. Reports show that cigarette smoke can contain more than 7,000 chemicals, some of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic. And when you breathe these chemicals into your lungs, they’ll suppress your immune system while making you more susceptible to infection in the process. If you’re a smoker, take immediate action to kick the habit so that it doesn’t hinder your health.

 

 

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is something that most of us take for granted. It’s until you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep until you realize just how important it is for your health. And while you’ll probably feel tired and fatigued from lack of sleep, you may suffer from a weakened immune system as well. Sleep allows our body to rest and reset itself so to speak. When you sleep, your body will repair itself both physically and mentally, resulting in a stronger immune system. If you don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, though, your immune system will weaken, thereby increasing the risk of infectious illness.

 

Cut Back on Sweets

Sugar has become a primary source of calories for millions of people. According to researchers from the University of San Francisco, California (USFC), the average U.S. adult consumes roughly 82 grams of processed “table” sugar each day. Over a year, that’s almost 66 pounds of sugar! Not only does sugar increase body fat; it also suppresses the immune system.

And don’t assume that artificial sweeteners are any better than regular sugar. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners affect the body in many of the same ways as regular sugar. This is because the body believes that it’s actual sugar, so it’s processed the same. If you have a craving for something sweet, eat a piece of fruit like an apple or banana. By limiting your consumption of sweets, you’ll achieve a stronger immune system that’s able to better protect you from infectious illness.

 

Manage Stress

You can also give your immune system a helping hand by managing your stress levels. Psychological stress can affect your health in many ways. If left unchecked, it will cause imbalances in your body’s hormones while also slowing down its metabolism. When these effects occur, your immune system may struggle to fight off infectious illnesses. For the strongest level of protection, you need to manage your stress levels so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on your immune system. Yoga, massage therapy and deep breathing exercises are all effective ways to reduce stress.

 

Don’t let a weakened immune system leave you susceptible to infectious illness this year. Contact us today to learn more about our chiropractic and wellness services.

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