Excessive stress, poor diet and the consumption of alcohol or cigarettes are some of the most common causes that can lead to a weakened immune system, making it more likely to catch a disease by viruses, fungi or bacteria.
However, these are causes that can be avoided or eliminated, making immunity stronger. For this, small changes in lifestyle are necessary, which include exercising regularly, eating more balanced and reducing the consumption of substances such as cigarettes or alcohol.
Check out the 7 most common reasons that can lower immunity and what to do in each case:
1. Excessive stress
Excessive stress is closely related to the weakening of the immune system. This happens because, during stressful situations, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is activated in the brain, which stimulates the production of glucocorticoids, which are hormones capable of inhibiting the production of important factors for the proper functioning of the immune system, such as cytokines, regulatory factors or white blood cells.
It is for this reason that people who suffer from a lot of stress and who may experience depression, are generally more susceptible to developing allergies and some autoimmune diseases.
What to do: measures must be taken to try to reduce stress, practicing regular physical exercise or participating in relaxing activities, such as yoga or mindfulness , for example. In addition, sleeping well and for at least 7 hours can also help. In the most severe cases, where symptoms of depression exist, it may be necessary to have therapy with a psychologist, for example. See more ways to manage stress .
2. Poor nutrition
A poor diet can also lead to a weakened immune system, as there may be a change in the acidity of the stomach, helping the onset of infections and reducing the absorption of many of the vitamins and minerals in foods that play very important functions in strengthening immunity.
For example, anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, copper or zinc, are very important to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals in the body, in addition to participating in the formation of T cells, lymphocytes and other important components of the immune system. Vitamins A and D, when in lower than normal amounts, are related to an increase in the number of infections and immune system failures.
As for B vitamins, if they are lacking in the body, they can lead to a reduction in the antigenic response and a reduction in the formation of antibodies and lymphocytes, which are essential for the immune system.
What to do: in order to avoid insufficiency of important nutrients for the immune system, a balanced diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, meat and eggs should be adopted. See what foods to include in the diet to boost immunity .
3. Lack of hygiene
The lack of proper hygiene, especially of the hands, can facilitate viruses, fungi and bacteria to come in contact with the mucous membranes of the face, that is, eyes, mouth and nose, facilitating the entry of microorganisms that can cause infections.
What to do: in order to avoid contamination and disease transmission, it is very important to maintain good hygiene, paying special attention to hand washing. Watch the following video and learn how to wash your hands properly:
4. Poor sleep quality
Insomnia and poor sleep quality also make the body more susceptible to infections. This is because sleepless nights can lead to an increase in cortisol levels and a reduction in melatonin, causing the body to enter a process of chronic stress, greatly impairing the production of cells essential for the immune system.
In addition, sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, also lead to increased nervous system activity, which further compromises immunity.
What to do: It is very important to try to create a healthy sleep routine. To do this, you must respect your bedtime every day, create a relaxing environment in your room and avoid stimulating activities, such as watching television or playing on your cell phone. In addition, there are also herbal teas and herbal supplements that can help you relax and sleep better, such as valerian or passionflower. In cases of insomnia that last for several days or sleep apnea, a specialist in sleep disorders should be consulted.
Check out 10 surefire tips to sleep well and get a good night’s sleep .
Obesity and overweight are other very important factors for the functioning of the immune system, since the excess of fat cells affects the integrity of lymphoid tissues and the distribution of white blood cells, leaving the body in a state of generalized and chronic inflammation , increasing the chances of developing infections and even chronic or metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and dyslipidemia.
What to do: In order to control obesity and excess weight, it is important to consult a nutritionist, who should develop a diet plan adapted to the person’s needs. In addition, regular physical exercise also contributes to weight loss, as well as improving immunity. Know all types of obesity and how treatment is done .
6. Use of medicines
The use of some medications, especially immunosuppressants and corticosteroids, can greatly contribute to the weakening of the immune system, since they act directly on immunity, decreasing the body’s response.
In addition, other medications, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and nasal decongestants, although they do not have an immediate impact on the immune system, when used for a long time or very often can also end up reducing the body’s natural defenses.
What to do: It is very important to avoid self-medication, and you should always use the drugs under the guidance of a doctor. In addition, it is recommended to inform the doctor of any symptoms that may arise during treatment with any medication, so that, in justifiable cases, the suspension or exchange of this medication can be made, reducing the impact on immunity.
7. Alcohol and cigarette consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to health and can cause liver damage, hypertension and heart problems, increasing the chances of catching infectious diseases, such as lung infections.
Cigarette use, as well as prolonged exposure to smoke, increases the risk of developing respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, making the body more susceptible to infections. In addition, the use of cigarettes can cause cellular damage and inflammation, altering the nasal flora, which is responsible for preventing the entry of viruses and bacteria in the body.
What to do: Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking.