6 Ways We Compromise Our Immune System
By Me-Shell Mijangos
Our immune system is specifically HOW our body fights off all pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins, and other 'invaders' that do not belong in our body. In a time when we are bombarded about ways to take care of our immune system (and thankfully so), it is essential to know about actions that compromise or lower our immune system.
Below you will find six actions people may be doing to harm or lower their immune system.
1) Lack of Exercise
What better way to bond with your child and to support a robust immune system — exercise. Exercise is essential to being happy, longevity, and a strong immune system. If you can do it, research shows routinely doing short bursts of high-intensity exercise may be best for building immunity (like surfing, at home high-energy dance parties or HIIT classes). In actuality, though, any form of exercise is better than none at all -- and it is vital to find an exercise that is enjoyable so you will continue with it.
2) Too Much Sugar
If your sweet child is starting to act more like a sugar monster, you are not alone. Kids today are constantly bombarded with sugar, to the point that many of them are legitimately addicted. This is leading to a whole host of problems, including difficulty focusing in school and/or home, a childhood obesity epidemic, an increased risk of developing serious diseases like heart disease or child onset diabetes and, of course, a weakened immune system. Now, that does not sound sweet!
The answer to getting your child's sugar addiction under control is to help your child understand the role that sugar plays in his or her overall health and immune system. Help your child get in touch with his or her body to understand the feeling of having too much sugar, and explain the impact that sugar has on our overall health in terms that he or she will understand. It is not necessary to go into details about serious health risks at this age. It can be enough to talk about how sugar will directly impact your child's life today, including moodiness, trouble focusing, feeling sluggish during soccer games, the reduced capability of fighting infections, dental issues, and that awful feeling of a sugar crash.
3) Not getting enough water
Water makes up 60% of body weight and helps the body to flush out toxins and illnesses. It is central to our immune system and our survival. While there is some talk about 'drinking too much water' far more people today still do not drink enough water. Have you heard of the urine test? This is actually fun for kids and my son loves to tell me what color his pee is! Oh boys! It is simple — dark yellow to amber means you may have mild to severe dehydration. While a lighter in color urine to no color means you have a healthy hydration level. Start children young in becoming a 'Pee Detective' so they can self-monitor their hydration levels.
4) Lack of Sleep
Proper sleep is crucial for a robust immune system. This is the time when the body restores and repairs. Generally speaking, toddlers need around 12 hours or more of sleep a night; children aged three to six – 10-12 hours; seven-12 years olds – 10-11 hours; and teenagers – around eight to nine hours. The most basic way to assess if your family is getting healthy sleep is if they (and you!) routinely awake feeling refreshed and ready to go.
5) Chronic Stress
Take a deep inhale, now exhale. Excess stress can have a significant adverse effect on your immune system, not to mention your entire body, but unfortunately, reducing stress seems to be on the back burner for most people. If you are one of those people, start small by making it critically important to laugh more. Watch your favorite movie, tell silly made up stories with your child, or practice laughing at yourself and not taking things so seriously. Less stress equals a more effective immune system.
6) Toxins in Home Care Products
The average household contains 62 toxic chemicals in the form of cleaning products. What some people might not be thinking about is that cleaning products can also "linger" in the air you breathe. Like your skin, what your lungs breathe in also goes straight to your bloodstream.
The EWG (download the EWG app) found that 53% of all cleaning products contain ingredients harmful to the lungs, while 22% contain chemicals known to cause asthma in those who are otherwise healthy.
Try to choose only non-toxic cleaning products. There are many "recipes" to make cleaners using safe ingredients you can learn about on Google or YouTube.
As you can see, there are things you may be doing that are weakening your immune system but not to worry. The last thing a person needs to do is stress about it. Remember to do your best and take small, actionable steps to work towards any one of these areas that seems most important. Pick something to change that is relatively easy to achieve success. Then, hopefully, your success will catapult you to take inspired action with other changes. Make this fun and a family project. And remember to laugh and smile!