The immune system is the body’s defence against infection, and keeping it strong is vital for overall health. Conversely, having a weakened immune system can make you more vulnerable to becoming sick.
Certain diseases and disorders can compromise your immune system. These include:
- HIV and AIDS
- Viral hepatitis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Some medications (immunosuppressants and corticosteroids)
However, even those without such diseases can have a weakened immune system. Keep reading for five symptoms of a compromised immune system.
Getting sick often
Since its primary function is to prevent infection, having lots of bouts of sickness is a sign your immune system may be weak. Common infections include bronchitis, pneumonia, and infections of the ear, skin and sinuses.
These ailments often appear much more frequently in immunocompromised people, last longer, and are more challenging to treat. Wounds such as cuts and scratches may also take longer to heal.
For example, while it is considered normal for adults to have 2-4 colds per year, having many more may signify a low immune system.
Likewise, suffering more than four ear infections per year, or more than two sinus infections, may warrant a doctor visit to check your immunity is working correctly.
Our immune systems also become weaker as we get older, making us more vulnerable to viruses such as the flu and COVID-19.
Furthermore, scientists are increasingly interested in the role of the gut in immunity. ‘Good’ bacteria, like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, help regulate the immune system.
Digestive problems such as bloating and diarrhoea may signal problems in the gut and, therefore, potentially immunity issues.
What to do
If you’re worried you may have a weakened immune system, it’s advisable to contact your doctor. Blood tests can reveal whether you have antibodies in a normal range and whether your immune system functions correctly.
However, some lifestyle factors may also be impacting how strong your immune system is.
You may have fallen sick after a particularly stressful period, such as during bereavement or even during exams or a significant work assignment.
Read more: The Difference Between Good And Bad Stress
This is because lymphocyte levels decrease in times of psychological stress, leaving your body vulnerable to infection.
Eating a balanced diet
A diet based on fibre-rich fruit and vegetables gives your body the best chance to fight infections.
In addition to a fibre-rich diet and healthy lifestyle, certain nutrients are vital to maintaining a healthy immune system.
In Organic Immunity Goals, we have used a combination of zinc, Vitamin C and Ashwagandha extract for a synergistic effect to boost your immunity. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, and some evidence suggests it may reduce the length of the common cold.
Over half of the cells responsible for making antibodies are found in the gut. Therefore, it’s essential to nurture the gut to ensure the immune system remains strong.
One way to do this is through probiotics. These are live microorganisms that promote healthy bacteria in the gut.
Read more: 7 Tasty Foods That Can Boost Your Gut Health
Examples of probiotic sources include fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and kombucha.
During our sleep, proteins called cytokines are released into the body.
These act as messengers for the immune system and therefore help your body mount the body’s response to infection.
Adults should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
Not only can frequent exercise is essential for overall mental and physical health – including maintaining the integrity of your bones and joints.
However, exercise can also reduce your risk of getting a cold or the flu as it helps flush out bacteria from the lungs. Physical activity also encourages the flow of antibodies and white blood cells around the body, vital in fighting infection.
Working out can also lower stress hormones, which can help keep your immune system strong.
Although there is no instant fix for your immune system, you can support it by limiting the number of negative impacts on the body and maximising factors that support immunity.
These include ensuring adequate nutrition by eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables and supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin product like Organic Immunity Goals. Minimising stress and ensuring sufficient sleep can also play a role in maintaining the immune system.
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