The human immune system is a complex system which interacts with the human body as a whole in numerous ways. In fact, you may not realize some of the seemingly insignificant things you do every day are actually harming your immune system.

1| Not Getting Enough Sleep

You’ve probably heard it time and time again but getting enough sleep each night is critical to keeping your immune system functioning at full power. In fact, one study linked not enough sleep to having lower number of white blood cells and lower germ fighting ability. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research recommends that all adults from ages 18-60 get at least 7 or more hours of sleep per night in order to maintain full immune system functionality. 

2| Chronic Stress

Everyone knows chronic stress is bad, after all, when you’re stressed you feel bad. But you may not realize just how bad chronic stress is for you. According to the Cleveland Clinic, when you experience stress, a small amount of cortisol is released into your blood system which actually helps boost immune function at that moment in time, however, when the body gets used to having this cortisol all the time it can cause chronic and difficult to treat inflammation. 

And inflammation in the immune system can affect a number of body systems, everything from the digestive system, to the joints, and even your heart. 

3| Poor Diet

Poor diet is perhaps the day to day choice that hurts your immune system the most. When you indulge on junk food loaded with salt, sugar, and fat, this causes increased inflammation, which as mentioned above, can become chronic and hard to treat. 

And it’s not just the food you eat, but also any alcohol you may drink or artificial substances such as nicotine that you put into your blood. Not only do alcohol and nicotine cause inflammation in the immune system, but they also cause massive irreversible damage to other large systems in the human body. 

Harvard Health recommends a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, while avoiding processed and fried foods in order to experience the best level of immune function.

4| Not Enough Exercise

This may come as a surprise to some people, because people often think that exercise lowers immunity. This is simply not true. In a study carried out by Science Direct in 2019, scientists investigated the connection between exercise and immune function and the results were astounding (The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system, David Nieman and Lauren Wentz). 

They found that regular exercise raises the body’s immune function in both the short and long term as the body boosted its white cell production during vigorous exercise—which led to an extended raised defense against communicable diseases.

5| Experiencing feelings of loneliness or grief

Crazy enough, extended feelings of grief, such as those that occur when losing a loved one, increase the amount of cortisol in the blood in the same way that chronic stress does. 

And it doesn’t just end there, according to the Journal of Neuroimmunology, chronic feelings of being alone can also increase a person’s chronic stress and therefore lowering their overall immune function in the long term. 

Laughter and the simple act of hugging someone have been shown to help in both instances and can actually have a positive effect on the body’s ability to battle illness.

The immune system is a one of the most complicated body systems, and it can be difficult to know what actions in your life are having an effect on it so it’s important to lead an overall healthy life and keep your life positive in order to be able to maintain a healthy immune system.