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With the COVID-19 virus sweeping the globe, more people than ever before are wondering about the causes of weak immune system responses and how to fix
The immune system is made of up:
- The mucous membranes (in the nose, throat, bladder, and genitals)
- The tonsils and the thymus
- The lymphatic system (lymph nodes and vessels)
- Bone marrow
- The spleen and the bowels
All these organs and tissues help keep you safe from infection and disease. If you don’t keep yourself healthy, though, your immune system will pay for it. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide to why immunity fails and what you can do about it.
Ready to find out how to supercharge your immune response and stay healthy for life? Then keep reading because we’re telling you everything you need to know.
The Immune Response Explained
The immune system’s job is to keep you protected from infections and disease. Yet, sometimes the immune system fails, and you wind up with the flu or worse. To understand the reasons why your immunity falls short, you first need to know the components of the immune response.
We’re exploring them here, so check it out.
Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) are your immune response’s first line of defense with a foreign invader gets into your system.
Dendritic cells and macrophages are both known as APCs. When dendritic cells encounter a pathogen, they signal the other immune response components that it’s time to get to work.
Meanwhile, macrophages serve as the immune system clean up crew, clearing away any toxic debris from destroyed cells or dismantled pieces of the pathogen.
There are more than 50 different types of cytokines in the human body. These proteins carry out the next steps of the immune response: making changes in cells. These cell adaptations allow the body to protect itself against the invading pathogen.
Among other changes, cytokines also signal the release of B cells.
B Cells and T Cells
B cells produce antibodies. Antibodies are the immune system’s weapon because they attach to pathogens and break them down into neutral, non-threatening pieces.
At the same time, T cells serve three distinct functions. First, they kill any cells infected by the virus. Then, T cells up-regulate or down-regulate the immune response, one way being through their influence over cytokine signaling.
A small subset of B cells and T cells known as memory cells stick around even after the pathogen is gone. That way, if you’re ever infected with the same pathogen, your body will know how to defeat it.
What are the Causes of Weak Immune System Responses?
The most apparent reason for weak immunity is bad hygiene. Failing to wash your hands, avoid people when they’re sick, or disinfect your living spaces can all cause you to get sick more frequently.
Yet, poor cleanliness isn’t the only thing causing you to get sick more often. Check out this list for four more common causes of weak immune system responses.
Lack of Sleep
Remember cytokines? You know, those naturally-occurring compounds that are vital to a healthy immune response? Well, here’s the secret about cytokines: your body only produces them while you’re sleeping.
That’s why studies have shown that lack of sleep can cause a drop in immunity.
Some studies suggest that insomnia may make your body less responsive to vaccines. How does this happen? Chronic sleep loss means your body isn’t producing as many cytokines, which reduces your body’s ability to recognize pathogens at all.
Poor Stress Management
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and short spikes of it lead to increased immune response. When you undergo chronic stress, though, your immune system takes the hit. That’s right, poor stress management can ultimately lead to:
- A drop in white blood cell counts
- Depression and anxiety, which may cause more inflammation
When your body has too few white blood cells, it can’t fight off infection. Worse, stress-related inflammation will put your immunity into overdrive. All three of these issues combined exhaust the immune system, which means it’s too tired to protect you from microbic invaders.
A Non-Nutritious Diet
Research shows that eating a nutritious diet is the easiest way to supercharge your immunity every single day. Studies show that diets full of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables can help improve white blood cell function. Low-fat diets may also help strengthen immunity.
All in all, though, keeping at a healthy weight is a foolproof way to ensure a healthier immune system. Obese individuals have been shown to fall victim to infections and viruses much more often than individuals with a lower BMI. We recommend a diet rich in fiber to encourage healthy immunity.
Other Underlying Conditions
If you’re struggling with chronic immune system deficiencies, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying disease or disorder. Poor immunity or immunodeficiency is a symptom of many conditions. For example:
Further, some medical treatments can cause immunosuppression, which is when your immune response is completely shut off. Immunosuppression is a symptom of chemotherapy and organ transplants. However, immunosuppression usually dissipates when the treatment is complete.
How to Supercharge Your Immunity
Luckily, most people don’t have to deal with chronic immunity problems. That’s because there are simple fixes you can make to boost your immune response. Let’s talk about two of them and how you can supercharge your immunity right now.
Getting more and better sleep, exercising frequently, eating a nutrient-dense diet, managing stress, and practicing proper hygiene can all support a healthier immune response.
One other thing: there is some evidence that supplementing your diet with immune system-boosting vitamins and minerals may be effective. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some foods rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, D, and E, or zinc.
Remember when we talked about memory cells? Those are the reason for how and why vaccinations are so effective and important.
A vaccination shoots you up with a small, manageable dose of a pathogen. Your immune system responds, fighting off the infection quickly and with ease. Meanwhile, a few B and T cells linger as memory cells to fight off the real infection in the future.
To learn more about vaccines and how they support a healthy immune response, check out this site.
The Final Word on the Immune System
The causes of weak immune system responses are completely avoidable. That is, as long as you follow our tips for supercharging your immunity.
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