Feeling run down or ill more often these days? You may have the power to change that. Here are six ways you may be unwittingly weakening your immune system and how to prevent it.
1. Binge drinking
If you’re partial to the odd bender, then you should know that it suppresses your bone marrow from making white and red blood cells, which are important for bolstering your immune system. Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than four standard drinks over the course of two hours, or when you drink enough to feel drunk in a short period of time.
To stay hydrated and help stop this from happening, try alternating your alcoholic drinks with plain or sparkling water.
If you take antacids, you could actually be doing your immune system more harm than good. Some antacids, such as QuickEze, absorb acid, but stronger prescription antacids contain proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which alter the pH of your stomach, making it more difficult for it to sterilise your food as you digest. This means you are more susceptible to infection and puts your immune system under duress. PPIs can also cause vitamin deficiencies, and, as we all know, vitamins can help to boost your immune system.
Try not to take antacids for more than three months at a time, or at least cut out foods that trigger your need to take them.
3. You’re a juice junkie
Most people would think that drinking a lot of juice would help their immune system but, to a certain extent, that isn’t so. If you’re one to drink juice or a smoothie instead of eating a healthy meal, your diet may be short on important fibre and vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, magnesium and selenium.
So, try to eat well-rounded meals and add the odd green juice as a supplement rather than a substitute to healthy eating. Balanced meals should include healthy fats, which are good for the skin and the immune system.
4. Pain medicines
Many pain medicines can damage your intestinal lining and cause a leaky gut, which can lead to unwanted bacteria and undigested food particles making their way through your stomach wall and into your blood stream. This puts stress on your immune system and means it can’t function properly.
If you’re taking pain medicine more than once or twice per week, you may need to see a health professional to check the underlying cause of your pain. Research alternative methods for managing pain, such as acupuncture, or try meditation or yoga. The more you can stay off pain meds the better you will feel in the long run.
There are many who don’t buy into the whole antibiotics thing, but they do have their place, and denying them should always be a decision made between you and your GP. But on the ‘cons’ side of taking antibiotics is the fact that they can mess with your internal body chemistry, including your intestinal lining and your gut flora, allowing toxins to be absorbed into your blood stream and weakening your immune system over time.
There are alternatives to taking antibiotics, especially if you’re doing so to treat an infection, such as vitamin C or cranberry supplements. As always, talk to your GP and find out the best way to go about this.
6. Excessive travel
Travelling exposes you to germs and pollutants to which your body is not accustomed. And depending on your style of travelling, you may also sleep less and have an irregular diet – all of which can contribute to stressing your immune system.
Maintaining a good routine when it comes to nutrition and exercise will help you bypass the negative effects of travel. So try to eat healthily when you’re away from home and if you can’t, at least take along some supplements, such as magnesium and zinc, to help your upkeep of important minerals and vitamins. Just check with your health professional first.
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