If you answered yes to one (or several) of these questions, chances are that your immune health may be suboptimal. Let’s take a look at 6 potential signs of weakened immunity and what you might be able to do to help your body’s natural defences tackle infections.
- Stress. You may notice that after a big project or a strong emotional experience you can sometimes become unwell. This happens because body secretes cortisol (a stress hormone) which affects the skin’s ability to keep out certain bacteria, viruses and fungi. Prolonged stress can affect the development of immune cells in your body, which can prevent them from being able to fight off infections1.
- Frequent infections (cold and/or flu): Multiple bouts of cold/flu annually can be a sign of weakened immunity. When you get the flu, your immune system kicks into overdrive, heating up your body and causing a fever to fight off infection. Your throat hurts because the cells that line the airway produce inflammation to try stop the virus going further. If you go through multiple infections in a year, your immune system puts great strain on your body as it needs to produce antibodies at an accelerated rate.
- Tiredness and fatigue: If you are feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get, it could be a sign of weakened immunity1. Poor sleep affects the skins regenerative abilities which might make healing wounds or fighting infections more difficult.
- Drastic changes in bodyweight: If your weight is not healthy for your height (i.e. you are overweight/obese or underweight), you can have compromised immunity. When you are overweight2, increased fat cells can cause an increase in the immune cells secreting certain chemicals causing a chronic inflammation which may affect the body’s ability to absorb key nutrients. If you are underweight with nutritional deficiency, your immune system is almost certainly weakened, your bones may be more fragile and you may feel tired all the time4. Neither extreme is good for your immune health.
- Wounds take longer to heal3: If you’ve noticed that minor injuries seem to be taking a long time to heal, your immune system might be weakened. The reason for this increased healing time might be chronic inflammation, or even age as our immune system weakens after early adulthood.
- Tummy problems: If good and bad bacteria in your stomach become unbalanced, it can cause your immune system to go into overdrive. This in turn can lead to diarrhoea, constipation and gas. Often this is due to low levels of the “good” bacteria found in our digestive systems.
What you can do to combat weakened immunity
Even if you’ve noticed any of the above signs of weakened immunity, it’s not all doom and gloom. If you are wondering how to increase immunity, there are some simple steps you can take to help your weakened immune system4. Start forming good immune health habits now by following a few simple rules below!