header print

Behaviors That Harm Our Immune System

sickAs you probably already know, the health of your immune system is actually YOUR health. The better it is off, the more resistant you are to invading viruses and infection. Many seem to think that the biggest influence on your immune system is vaccinations and diseases. This is only a small part of the story.

Your habits, those things you do daily, have a huge impact on your immune system and ultimately - on how protected you are from illness, especially as you get older. Here are 8 behaviors that damage your immune system and that you should avoid for your own good.

1. You don't chit-chat enough
It is becoming more and more clear that social interaction isn't just healthy for the mind but also for the body. The mere social behavior may contribute a lot to our well being. Research has shown that a low level of social interaction at home, work, and the community makes us more likely to become sick.
When we lack social engagement, our brains get flooded with anxiety-generating chemicals, and we end up actually living shorter lives than our more sociable friends. One research that our of 270+ people between the ages of 18-55, those that had 6 or more regular social interactions were 4 times better at holding off cold viruses.

How to solve: We all have hectic lives at times, but don't forget to cultivate and maintain your friendships, they may be just as important as your gym membership.

2. You don't get enough sleep

There's always something to do, and this day and age - always something to watch. But staying up late and waking up early is associated by many health experts with a weak immune system that has a reduced amount of killer white blood cells to fight germs and viruses with. A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that men who sleep only 4 hours a night, for 1 week only, only produced half (!) the amount of antibodies designed to fight off flu, compared to those sleeping 7.5-8.5 hours per night.

How to solve: Most adults require 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, but if you're still tired half an hour after waking up - your quality of sleep is probably not so good. Try to get enough sleep and if you are tired - consult a sleep specialist, because sleep is crucial to your immune system and overall wellbeing. 
3. You're a downer
Serious research has unequivocally shown that people who tend to look at the glass as half empty and with a leak, have more stress in their lives and worse health. Those that are more optimistic have a higher T-cell count, a better immune response, and more powerful white cells. Now of course it could be that optimistic people take better care of themselves and their health, but it seems quite logical that a blacked look at life will cause your body to also get depressed, and with it your immune system.

How to solve: It's not that easy to just clap your hands and poof! you're an optimist. It takes a real commitment to change your 

speech and thought patterns, simply by asking yourselves: "what other way can I look at this? Is there a less terrible way to judge this?" Try it, a little at a time. Try to really understand why something, or someone, might be better than you thought. Change will come with time, and with it - a boost to your immune system.
couple fight

4. You fight with your spouse in the wrong way

A very interesting research by UCLA found that couples that discuss their problems openly receive the same boost to their immune system and killer cell count as they would get from mild exercise. On the flip side, couples that fight by sarcasm, insults and passive-aggressive behavior have less T cells, higher levels of stress hormones (logically) and may take up to 40% loner to recover from injuries than their more open and positive counterparts. 

How to solve: Habits and relationship dynamics are also hard things to change, and many couples rely on friendly banter. That's fine, it is when that banter becomes a bit TOO sharp that you start suffering, and it's never good for the relationship either. If you have a real problem, discussing it bravely and openly with your spouse is not just healthy for your relationship, but apparently also for your own body.

5. No break from the rat race of stress

immune system
Everyone deals with stress on occasion, but what happens when we are under stress day after day, with hardly any letup? What happens is that your immune system starts experiencing a decline in its ability to fight infection, virus and germ. Periods of stress that do not let up quickly will cause your killer cell count to drop and turn your immune system more sluggish. It is a known fact that widows and widowers are a lot more likely to get sick in the year following the death of their spouse than those who have not gone through this major loss and stress-inducing event.

How to solve: To each their own. We all have things that relieve our stress, whether it's a scented bath, going to the gym, getting off work for a few days or anything in between. Remember those things that relax you and go do them on a regular basis. That's right, make room in your busy calender for 'relaxation' - that is if you want to live a healthier life.

6. You borrow stuff from other people

Take our advice: If you need to use a pen, bring your own. If you need a calculator, bring your own. If you need a laptop... well, you get the point. Cold and flu germs are passed, more often than not, by hand to hand contact. You never know where an object has been and who has touched it. We're not saying run away when someone offers you a pen, but we would suggest not making a habit of borrowing other people's stuff - you never know when you might pick something up and pass it along to your family. 

How to solve:  Make a list of the most common items you will need to use during the day. Carry a bag or have some deep pockets for some basic stuff like a pen. Don't borrow stuff that you can bring from home.

7. Leave those antibiotics alone

Antibiotics were invented to fight serious infections and germs. Taking antibiotics every time you have a slight illness or a few symptoms will cause your body to develop a more serious resistance to antibiotics, and so you will become vulnerable to the more serious cases of infection. Research has found that patients tending to take a lot of antibiotics have a more suppressed immune system, which means you will get more sick in the future, so you are just postponing this light sickness for a more serious illness down the line. 

How to solve:  Only take antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection, take as much as ordered, but do not use them to prevent illness unless instructed to specifically by your doctor. Don't save antibiotics you didn't use for the future, use as much as told and throw away the rest.

8. Why so serious?

This may be no laughing matter, but your immune system loves a good chuckle. Research has shown that emotions accompanying real laughter cause a decrease in the level of stress hormones in the body as well as certain immune cells. In a recent research conducted at the Loma Lina University of Medicine, adults watching a funny video for as little as an hour showed significant increases in their immune system activity.

How to solve:  Well, we think this one explains itself! Laugh more, people! Enjoy your favorite comedies, meet with your funniest friends, read silly comics and memes and just open yourself to funny experiences! 

Image courtesy of:  renjith krishnan,  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cover photo courtesy of: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

Sign Up Free
Did you mean:
Related Topics: tips, advice, health, immune system
Sign Up Free
Did you mean: