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Health 27 October 2017
By: Natasha Tanga

Five Immune Busters You Should Stay Away From

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Like the coin, there's always a flipside to our immune system defenses. While we have introduced a few immune boosting habits and foods earlier this month, we now list down a number of things you should stay away from, or at least reduce, when you're trying to jack up your immune defenses.

1. Calories 

Limiting consumption of calories seems to boost key infection-fighting cells in the immune system. In a study, restricting calories by 10 percent improved immune function. Calorie restriction improved T-cell function and reduced the production of inflammatory compounds. These findings suggest that limiting calories can delay immunological aging, and, in turn, life span maybe increased by providing longer-term resistance to infectious diseases. 

2. Sugar 

Sugary foods and drinks have a blunting effect on immune system cells that can last for several hours at times. This can curb your ability to fight off immune attacks and reduce your body’s natural ability to fight bacteria. Study shows that drinking 24 ounces of soda depressed the activity of white blood cells that fight infection by 50 percent. 

If consumed too much, sugar causes systemic inflammation in the body, manifesting as either joint pain, perhaps cancer, organ distress, diabetes, and maybe even a cold.  Moreover, research proves that cancer cells feed on sugar. Sugar lowers HDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol) and increases the density of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. 

3. Lack of sleep 

Sleep deprivation can negatively impact immune function since certain disease-fighting substances are released or created while we sleep.  Our bodies need these hormones, proteins, and chemicals in order to fight off disease and infection.  Sleep deprivation, therefore, decreases the availability of these substances leaving us more susceptible to each new virus and bacteria we encounter. This can also cause us to being sick for a longer period of time as our bodies lack the resources to properly fight whatever it is that is making us sick.

4. Stress

Stress that lasts for an extended period or is frequent and repetitive, is taxing to your immune system. Not only does consume energy, but it can leave you vulnerable to illness, colds and diseases. Stress increases your body’s release of cortisol, which in turn suppresses the immune system. 

The brain recognizes cortisol as the "fight or flight" hormone, and when it is produced, other body functions are halted until the stressful situation has passed. This is the body's way of taking care of an immediate emergency. The immune system also receives signals to slow down while cortisol does its job. But with chronic stress, however, the immune system stays in low gear, leaving the body vulnerable to infection and disease. Common illnesses brought on or worsened by stress are cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, skin conditions and poor memory function. 

5. Sedentary lifestyle

Exercise releases endorphins which help us feel happy, it also helps fight cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and even cancer. Exercise also helps the lymphatic system, which works with the immune system on a daily basis to help keep you healthy. The lymphatic system is made up of a series of nodes and vessels that filter lymphatic fluid. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump; for this reason, exercise is key to keeping the lymphatic system moving. If you don’t exercise, you are most often generally less healthy and more likely to get a cold, at least compared to those in similar circumstances who engage in regular, moderate exercise.

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