Learn the signs of a strong immune system, and how you can keep it in tip-top shape.
When was the last time you felt truly healthy? For me, it comes in waves. It can be easy to slip into a pattern of ignoring the minor things that trouble you throughout the day. Like the occasional stuffy nose, to morning (and afternoon, and evening) grogginess. Wake up exhausted and just power through… sound familiar?
However, frequently looking past these minor troubles can eventually snowball into something more serious, like chronic health issues. So, sit down, take a deep breath, and learn how to understand and improve your immune system. These signs of a strong immune system can help you stay on the lookout for when you’re on the up and up.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is incredibly complex! It affects every other part of your body, and many people don’t understand just how important it is to keep your immune system strong. Constant stress, lack of sleep, or burnout can take a toll on your immune system, leaving you vulnerable.
It’s important to understand your immune system before you can begin to make it strong! There are two categories within your general immune system, your innate immune system, and your adaptive immune system.
Innate vs. Adaptive Immune System
- Your innate immune system is what you’re born with. It forms the first line of defense against pathogens and other germs that invade your body.
- Your adaptive immune system, on the other hand, builds up over time as your body encounters new pathogens. If your body has seen that specific invader before, it can launch a tailored attack against it to keep you safe.
At What Age is Your Immune System the Strongest?
Although your immune system is often strongest at puberty and declines with age, it can improve and weaken over time. Just like anything else, it needs to be maintained. Constantly pulling all-nighters, eating an unbalanced diet, and ignoring the little signs of sickness can all weaken your immune system.
Top Signs of A Strong Immune System
There are many signs that your immune system is thriving, and these are four tell-tale signs you’re on the right track.
- You feel alert. It’s okay to feel tired every now and then. But it shouldn’t happen constantly. One of the signs that your immune system is strong is a sense of alertness and awareness throughout the day.
- You sleep well. Not only should you be sleeping through the night, but you should also wake up feeling well-rested, rather than feeling like you could sleep for another few hours.
- You don’t feel sick all the time. Once you get over one illness, another doesn’t follow in its place, followed by another, and another…
- You regulate your emotions well. When you don’t feel well, even subconsciously, it can affect how you treat yourself and others. Being healthy means having more than just good physical health.
5 Signs of a Weak Immune System
Part of knowing the strength of your immune system is also knowing its weakness. Here are five key things to keep an eye out for.
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate. This might be a sign that something is off with your immune system. If you notice your pulse rising unnecessarily or feel lightheaded or dizzy, take notice—don’t just brush it off.
- Digestive problems. Finding yourself constantly bloated or ill after a meal, regardless of what you eat, isn’t normal. Decreased immune function can affect your microbiota, which in turn mess with your digestive capabilities.
- Worse health-related habits. Skipping sleep, eating junk food, drinking, or smoking can all be related to and interfere with your immune system’s strength.
- Constant sickness. If you frequently wake up with a sore throat, or a runny nose, or a headache, this could be a sign that your immune system has weakened and can’t fight off pathogens as efficiently as it once did.
- Inflammation. This is yet another sign that your immune system might not be as strong as it should be.
Tips to Help Your Immune System Thrive
Whether you feel your immune system is at peak strength, or that it needs a helping hand, here are some tools to focus on for a happy and strong immune system any time of year.
- Keep active. Exercise is beneficial for not only your entire body, but also your immune system! It also helps with inflammation and stress and can help you sleep better at night.
- Prioritize sleep. It’s easy to discount sleep’s role in keeping you healthy, but the difference between getting a full night’s rest and continually waking up or cutting your sleep short can have a tremendously negative impact on your immune system. If you can’t meet the seven-to-nine-hour recommendation, try moving back your bedtime a bit.
- Manage your stress. Chronic stress and burnout take a serious toll on the immune system. Make sure to take some time every now and then to meditate, read—whatever works for you!
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water is so important for your bodily health. If you struggle with getting enough water in, try adding some watery fruits and vegetables into your diet, such as cucumbers, watermelon, or celery.
- Work on your anger. Although it can feel good to get angry sometimes, constantly getting annoyed over the small things can have a serious impact on your immune system. If you find yourself getting angry over something inconsequential, take a second and breathe through the emotions instead.
- Pile on the produce. Fruit and veggies are great for your immune system, especially these six foods. Shifting to a plant-powered diet can have amazing benefits for your health.
Now that you’ve learned about what a strong immune system looks like—and how to strengthen your own immune system—make sure you’re staying mindful. It can be easy to slip back into that routine of ignoring your health. Just remember what you’ve learned and stay focused on the path forward to your best self.
Looking for more tips? Here are 8 other ways to help maintain a healthy immune system.