Do you ever wonder why some people tend to get sick all of the time while others don’t? It’s likely you’ll find yourself somewhere in the middle of those extremes. While the prevalence of germs varies, bacteria and viruses are all around us all the time. That’s why it’s important to learn what makes us susceptible to sickness and what we can do to protect our health.
WHY DO I GET SICK ALL THE TIME?
1. It May Be Genetic
Genetics play a partial role in our vulnerability to sickness. There are some genetic variations in all of us that make one person more susceptible to one type of virus over another. Likewise, a person can be prone to bacteria but not viruses. This means that two people with the same viral exposure may react differently. One person can get ‘a cold’ for a day, while another battles a runny nose for over a week.
2. It May Be the Health of Your Immune System
Putting aside the unknown variables, we do have some degree of control over whether we get ill or not, and to what degree. We can protect ourselves by engaging in healthy behavior and ditching the bad habits hurting our immune system. For example:
THE 8 HABITS HURTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Excessive Alcohol Use
- Chronic Stress
- Lack of Sleep
- Poor Dental Hygiene
- Poor Nutrition
- Lack of Physical Activity
- Poor mental attitude or depression
We do have some control over some of the immune-depleting behaviors listed above. While it is fairly common to not get enough sleep and have a fair amount of daily stress, we can make changes like exercising more and kicking that smoking habit. Perhaps the simplest thing we can change to improve our health is focusing on proper diet, nutrition and filling in any gaps with immune-boosting supplements.
NATURAL IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOOD & SUPPLEMENTS
Garlic and zinc have both been shown to not only improve your immune system, but may actually fight viruses and/or bacteria directly. Of course, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables which provide vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc are great immune boosters as well. Reishi and other types of mushrooms have been shown to improve the immune system, and supplements that contain Lysine, Echinacea, and Goldenseal are also useful. Protecting ones gut flora with probiotics improves the overall immune system and support healthy inflammation levels.*
THE POWER OF EXERCISE
Regularly engaging in moderate exercise has been shown to increase the levels of certain interleukins- cytokines that regulate our immune system. This helps to support our immune system and promote a healthy inflammation response.*
THE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON IMMUNE HEALTH
While brief episodes of stress improve our immune system, chronic stress has the opposite effect. Stress raises our levels of cortisol, the body’s natural steroid. Although short periods of increased cortisol have an adaptive benefit, chronically high steroid levels suppress our immune system and can negatively affect cardiovascular health. Taking time to de-stress can help break this consistent level and allow our body to reset. Both the physical stress of a demanding job or life and emotional stress or depression can profoundly impact our immune system.
Once again, removing or addressing the biggest stressors is crucial in maintaining a health immune system. Regularly engaging in calming activities such as yoga, exercise or meditation can be very beneficial.
Paying attention to some of these basic ideas just might help you from catching that next cold, and of course washing your hands doesn’t hurt.
Article By Jeff Pearl, MD
Dr. Jeff is a trained general, pediatric cardiac, and transplant surgeon. Nutrition has always been an important concern for surgeons in regards to patients healing from surgery. He has had a longstanding interest in health, nutrition and supplements, and been an advocate of the use of nutrition and supplements in the hospital setting to aid in his patient’s recovery. He has a history of basic science and clinical research and a keen ability to interpret studies and statistics to determine their true significance. He is the father and step-father to several teenage athletes and knows firsthand the challenges they face in balancing their time, eating habits and use of supplements. He is adamant about trying to educate our youth about better nutrition. Dr. Jeff recognizes the challenges that healthcare faces and the need for people to take charge of their own health and disease prevention. He loves being outside and is one of those crazy few seen hiking or biking in the middle of the day in summer.