The immune system fends off dangers to the body. If the immune system is weakened, bacteria, viruses, and degenerate malignant cells, among other things, have an easier time causing damage to the body. But what is particularly bad for the immune system? Seven enemies of the immune system.
Immune System: The Body’s Protective Shield
Another important protective shield is the lymph nodes. As part of the immune system, they represent an important filter station for pathogens and cancer cells. It is not for nothing that they are also called “guardian nodes”. In the blood, among other things, the white blood cells (leukocytes) are responsible for the defense against pathogens.
What Weakens The Immune System
Various influencing factors can weaken the immune system and make the natural protective shields more
permeable. Illnesses and infections are among the consequences. The greatest dangers to the immune system include:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Lack of sleep
The Immune System Ages Over The Years
Age is a major enemy of the immune system. The immune system ages with it and becomes weaker. With advancing age, the susceptibility of humans to diseases and other attacks of the immune system increases.
The thymus glands shrink after puberty. This gland is an important part of the immune system. In it, for example, certain white blood cells get their immunological character. Certain immune cells (B and T lymphocytes) also decrease over the years. This also results in an increasing decrease in the activity of these cells and, overall, a progressive weakening of the immune defense.
Vitamin Deficiency And The consequences
Nutrient deficiency is also a risk for the body’s defenses. In order for the immune system to function properly, it needs certain nutrients. A healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, whole grain products, vegetable oils, and nuts supports the immune system. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends five servings a day: three vegetables, two fruit.
Vitamin A, which activates the body’s own immune cells and supports the formation of antibodies, is found in carrots, celery, lamb’s lettuce, and kale, for example. Vitamin E, which scavenges free radicals, is found in oils like sunflower oil and flaxseed oil, but also in almonds and hazelnuts. Vitamin C, which can reduce the duration and severity of an infection, is found in abundance in citrus fruits, broccoli, and paprika.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which also strengthen the immune system, are found in cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, and mackerel. According to the DGE, two servings of fish per week are enough to absorb the required amount. By the way: a lack of nutrients and energy is also the reason why crash diets often put a heavy strain on the immune system and favor infections such as colds.
Lack Of Sleep Makes The Body’s Defenses Tired
Lack of sleep affects the body’s defenses and is one of the immune system’s greatest enemies. The body needs a regular sleep rhythm with at least six hours of sleep in order to be able to regenerate and gather strength. Studies with shift workers have shown the extent to which a lack of sleep and a constantly changing sleep-wake cycle can affect the immune system.
As reported by the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, numerous studies show that drowsiness has a negative effect on physical and mental performance, motor skills, and mood. At the same time, night shift workers have an increased risk of cancer and stomach problems, including gastric ulcers.
Stress And Psychological Stress Weaken The Body
A stressful situation that lasts for a long time not only has a negative effect on mental health but also affects the immune system, as the professional associations and specialist societies for psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychosomatic, neurology and neurology from Germany and Switzerland warn. Those who suffer from chronic stress are often susceptible to infections.
Chronic stress from over straining in professional and private life or from traumatic experiences and other long-term psychological stresses lead to a decrease in certain substances that activate the immune system. At the same time, the released stress hormones suppress the body’s defenses. In addition to an increased susceptibility to infection, the development of new diseases can be promoted and the deterioration of existing diseases can be promoted.
Cold Freezes The Immune System
Many women know it: If the abdomen cools down, the bladder infection is not long in coming. And after a walk in the cold, your nose will soon run and your throat will scratch. Why is that? If the body freezes, the body’s defenses are slowed down. In addition, the cold disrupts the blood flow to the mucous membranes. Viruses and bacteria then have an easy job.
Alcohol Confuses The Immune Cells
Alcohol is also one of the enemies of the immune system. It has a dampening effect on the body’s defenses. The white blood cells, especially the so-called phagocytes, are “confused” by alcohol in the blood. You overlook pathogenic germs more easily. In addition, alcohol promotes inflammatory reactions in the body that weaken the immune system.
As the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) reports, the liver, pancreas, stomach, and intestines, among other things, can become infected. The risk of cancer in these organs also increases with excessive alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer is also increased in women.
Smoking Clouds The Immune System
It’s not just alcohol that harms the immune system. The body defense of smokers is often weaker than that of non-smokers. Due to the influence of nicotine, certain cells of the immune defense work worse, so that smokers are more susceptible to bacterial and inflammatory diseases.
And another factor comes into play: According to the BZgA, the nasopharynx of smokers contains fewer “good” bacteria that displace “bad” bacteria. The risk of infections of the respiratory tract is therefore also increased in smokers. This also applies to passive smoking.
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