Six Lifestyle Factors that Can Cripple Your Immune System

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

We learn almost daily of new, unsuspected environmental dangers that can undermine our immune system. I’ve chosen to highlight six of the most common threats here.

Marcel Hernandez, ND, of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, California

Dr. Marcel

I’ve focused on these culprits because they’re probably the easiest to defend ourselves against. It only takes a few simple, easy and even enjoyable changes.

Insufficient Sleep. University of Texas scientists have revealed that getting too little sleep contributes to a laundry list of mental and physical problems – including impaired immunity. In other words, getting insufficient Z’s is a genuine health hazard. Take it seriously – it can make you sick.

The researchers report that too many sleep-deprived nights lower the immune system’s T-cell defenses and raise dangerous inflammatory cytokines. So go to bed early if you want to stay healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Binge drinking. A study reported in BMC Immunology concluded that heavy drinking weakens the body’s ability to fight off infection for up to 24 hours after the binge.

The details: Bingeing on booze inhibits certain molecules that signal the immune system to launch its anti-inflammatory responses and kill bacteria and viruses.

The researchers also found that heavy drinking suppresses the immune system for at least an entire day. Certain important cytokines were found to be absent 24 hours after the subjects stopped drinking. It’s not a very pleasant thought: a hangover on top of a hangover!

Vaccines. Vaccines do work, despite claims to the contrary. But it’s HOW they work that should raise our concern.

The human immune system is like a castle protected by three levels of armor. The first defense is the moat surrounding the castle. Atop the castle walls are archers and swordsmen. And if an invader makes it past these barriers, the third line of defense is the soldiers inside the walls.

Vaccines bypass the immune system’s outer defenses and penetrate all the way to the body’s antibody response system (the soldiers inside the castle).

The upshot is that vaccines don’t actually prevent disease; they just shut down the immune system’s ability to respond and cause disease symptoms.

In the long term, vaccines weaken the immune response and leave us more vulnerable to infections. A better plan is to do all we can to make our immune system strong.

Loneliness. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have linked loneliness to a number of adverse immune responses.

The researchers found that lonely people showed signs of elevated latent herpes virus reactivation. The lonely subjects also produced more inflammation-related proteins in response to acute stress than people who were more socially connected. Want to stay well? Join your local choral society, garden club, or church group.

Stress. Chronic, long-term stress harms many bodily systems. For example, it elevates cortisol and other corticosteroids, contributing to premature ageing and a weakened immune system. Stress can make you sick. To be well, make time regularly to chill.

Sugar. Medical researchers at Columbia University found that eating 100 grams of sugar, equivalent to about 8 tablespoons, or the amount of sugar in a 1-liter bottle of soda, reduces the germ-killing effectiveness of the body’s white blood cells by 40 percent.

Threats to our immune health are all around. Defending ourselves can be very enjoyable!

Threats to our immune health are all around. Defending ourselves can be very enjoyable!

Think of it this way. After consuming a big sugary drink, your immune system will be crippled for up to five hours. It’s an invitation to disease, and certainly not worth it, when there are delicious natural sweeteners to take sugar’s place – dates, organic chocolate, and a host of soluble tea- and coffee-sweeteners on your organic grocer’s shelves.

Sugar and Vitamin C share a similar chemical makeup. So sugar competes with Vitamin C for space in your immune cells. The more sugar in your system, the less Vitamin C can get into your white blood cells, and the less well-protected you’ll be against colds, flu, and other illness.

Conclusion: staying well is a whole lot easier when you honor some commonsense guidelines: sleep more, drink less, make friends, exercise caution when it comes to vaccines, and substitute healthy, natural sweeteners for sugar.

Now – doesn’t that sound easy?!

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work click HERE.

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