Habits that Harm Your Immune System
While the immune system is the body’s primacy defense against disease and illness, most people are unaware that certain lifestyle habits can weaken and even destroy the immune system. Below defines the immune system, explains harmful habits and clarifies why it’s important to have a healthy immune system.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a critical collection of processes, responses and structures within the body that protects against disease and harmful pathogens. Major components include the skin, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, lymphocytes and bone marrow. For example, the spleen is the largest lymphatic order that houses white blood cells and recycles old blood cells. On the other hand, lymphocytes are made up of B and T- white blood cells that physically defend the body against toxins, bacteria and pathogens. In fact, T-cells specifically target viruses and cancer cells. However, they cannot fight against cancerous cells that camouflage themselves or cancerous tumors. This is important to know because while the immune system can help fight cancer, it can also become weakened by it.
Little-Known Habits that Destroy the Immune System
It is an unfortunate fact that many people are surrounded by both proven and suspected carcinogens wherever they go. Carcinogens may be a lifestyle choice, such as tobacco use or poor nutrition, or they may be naturally occurring, such as UV light or radon gas. Carcinogen exposure can occur at home, work, school and even at a hospital in the form of a medical treatment. While not all exposures to carcinogens results in cancer, each one may have a different effect. For example, certain carcinogens only damage the body after prolonged exposure. Some of the most common carcinogens found in homes include asbestos, hair dyes and even certain cosmetics.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Many people regularly fail to get enough sleep and build up “sleep debt.” As a result, chronic sleep deprivation weakens and even suppresses the functioning of the immune system. For example, studies in the UK and the Netherlands have shown that the body’s T-cell count goes down as people get less sleep. This is because going without sleep creates physical stress, which negatively influences body functioning. Learn more about the study from the National Sleep Foundation, here: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/sleep-deprivation-effect-the-immune-system-mirrors-physical-stress.
Sitting in front of the TV or computer every day can literally kill you. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of developing a variety of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and colon and breast cancer. A sedentary lifestyle significantly increases the rates of comorbidity with serious health conditions. Even bones, like muscle, depend on regular exercise to maintain proper bone homeostasis, which directly influences bone marrow health. A sedentary lifestyle can result in weight gain, metabolism changes and even a stiff spine. Consistent physical activity, such as exercise, sports, and home maintenance, all will help maintain a healthy body.
Many people are understandably busy with their work, home and hobbies. However, they also procrastinate getting critical healthcare maintenance, such as regular checkups and screenings. As a result, many adults are shocked to suddenly learn that they have a major disease, such as cancer. Proactive cancer screening significantly increases the likelihood of early detection and successful management. For example, any woman over 40 years old should have an annual mammogram. Any adult over 50 should have different colon cancer testing, such as a CT colonography every five years and a colonoscopy every 10 years. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/index.
Antibiotics have been so widely used and over prescribed by healthcare professions that they are less effective. In fact, many people have developed antibiotic resistance. As a result, the antibiotics they take are unable to kill the harmful organisms, which may result in further illness or even death. Researchers have found that over consumption of powerful antibiotics results in bacteria becoming drug resistant. When feasible, consider using a complementary and alternative treatment in place of antibiotics. Learn more about antibiotic resistance, here: http://cvi.asm.org/content/20/3/319.full.
Why a Healthy Immune System Matters
A healthy immune system is what keeps people healthy and helps them properly function. In fact, anyone with an immunodeficiency problem will suffer severe limitations with their social and personal life. Therefore, a healthy immune system is critical to overall health and well-being as we come into contact every day with countless germs, bacteria and viruses every day. A healthy immune system is also essential to avoiding chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Keep in mind that there are specific treatments available to help those with weak or damaged immune systems. In fact, many complementary and alternative medicines have proven ways to boost the immune system with minimal side effects.