Medically speaking, the importance of having high immunity is that it results in a stronger ability to resist illness. However, there are many factors of daily life that can lower immunity without our realizing it. It is assumed that even generally healthy people have, at one time or another, felt poorly or experienced a slow recovery from a particular illness. This may be attributed to various lifestyle habits which can have a negative impact on the immune system. These lifestyle habits can be simple or complicated, but the stress they put on the body is the same. Below is a brief description of some lifestyle habits that could lead to lowered immunity.
Habit 1: Stress and/or Lack of Sleep
The two divisions of the autonomic nervous system are the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. These two systems work together to control and balance our internal organs. The sympathetic system governs what is termed the ‘fight or flight’ response, while the parasympathetic system governs what is termed the ‘rest and digest’ response. Both of these systems are closely related to immunity by way of granulated leukocytes and lymph corpuscles in the human blood, which are regulated by the activities of these systems. When the sympathetic nervous system dominates, granulated leukocytes increase to excess, and when the parasympathetic nervous system dominates, lymph corpuscles will increase to excess. Lack of sleep, stress, and being overworked are all circumstances that will strain the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in lowered immunity.
Habit 2: Body Temperature
Other than stress, strain, and shortage of sleep, it is said that sudden change in body temperature destabilizes the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. For instance, have you ever experienced symptoms of a cold upon entering an excessively cold room, or after drinking cold drinks? When these two systems become imbalanced, immunity is weakened. This is the reason that so many people find themselves getting sick when the seasons change. A lowered body temperature can also occur a result of consuming cold drinks, which also lowers immunity, and can result in illness.
Habit 3: Imbalanced Diet
It is well-known that unhealthy eating habits, such as consuming high amounts of sugars and fats, or eating fast-foods and processed foods, has a negative impact on immunity. On the other hand, regular consumption of dietary fibers that are contained in beans, vegetables, and grains fosters the good bacteria in the intestines, which leads to improved immunity.
Habit 4: Red Meat
There has been some very interesting research conducted about the relationship between food and immunity. According to one study, those who consume high quantities of red meat experience shorter longevity than those who do not, and the probability of death as a result of a malignant tumor is 4 times higher for those who eat red meat. The reason that red meats are bad for health is thought to be the presence of Neu5Gc, which is the sugar component contained in beef, pork, lamb and other red meat. This component is not innate to human beings, thus our bodies are not designed to process it. Excessive consumption can lead to inflammation, a condition triggered by an immune reaction when the component enters the body. It is said that inflammation resulting from the excessive consumption of red meat may result in the formation of a malignant tumor.
Habit 5: Soda and Other Sugary Beverages
A research study conducted in the U.S. advises that drinking one cup of sweetened soda per day, such as Coke or Pepsi, causes the immune cells to age by approximately 2 years. Furthermore, two cups per day can age the immune cells up to 5 years. It has also been suggested that the regular consumption of sugary and sweetened beverages is related to the development of diabetes and obesity.