Do you have a low immune system?
It’s an important question these days.
The immune system is your body’s defense against bacteria, viruses, and germs.
At the same time, a strong immune system speeds wound healing and prevents infection.
Fortunately, you’re largely in control of your immunity.
In this article, we cover how the immune system works, how to tell if your immune system is compromised, and how to strengthen it.
Let’s get started!

What It Means to Be “Immunocompromised”

“Immunocompromised” means that the body’s defenses aren’t working properly.
Thus, people who are immunocompromised are less prepared to fight disease and infection.

The Health Risks of Having a Low Immune System

Having a low immune system comes with some pretty serious health risks, including chronic illness and a shorter lifespan.
Consequently, people who are immunocompromised can have severe reactions to even mild infections.
Depending on the level of immunodeficiency, this can be life-threatening.

Who Is Most At Risk for A Low Immune System?

The elderly, young children and people with chronic conditions are most at risk for a low immune system.
Therefore, it’s important to wash hands often, safely disinfect surfaces, avoid touching your face, and contact medical attention at the first signs of not feeling well.
Later on in this article, we’ll talk more about the common signs of a weak immune system.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about how the immune system works:

How the Immune System Works

The immune system is a collection of organs and cells that fight disease.
It includes the:
  • Lymph nodes
  • Thymus gland
  • Tonsils
  • Spleen
  • Bone marrow
Additionally, these organs make and release white blood cells called “lymphocytes.” (1)
Actually, there are two main types of white blood cells:
  1. B cells: They act as the immune system’s military intelligence system and release specific antibodies to fight invaders.
  2. T cells: They are the soldiers that destroy foreign invaders and mutated cells.
Together, these parts work together to fight disease and regulate the life cycle of your cells.
Under normal circumstances, you develop stronger immunity over time.
Gradually, the immune system learns how to respond to specific invaders.
However, this process can get thrown out of whack in people with a low immune system.

Primary vs. Secondary Immunodeficiency

To begin with, the risk of illness and infection depends on the level of immunodeficiency.
Furthermore, immunodeficiency is either primary or secondary:
Primary immunodeficiencies are relatively rare genetic conditions.
Secondary immunodeficiencies, on the other hand, are more common.
Namely, they’re the results of poor nutrition, drug complications, disease, and environmental factors like pollution.

Common Causes of Immunodeficiency

For the most part, a weakened immune system can be caused by:
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • AIDS
  • Autoimmune conditions, like ankylosing spondylitis and multiple sclerosis
  • Congenital disorders, like cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Antibiotics
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Lack of sun exposure
  • Old age
  • Loneliness and isolation
Out of these, poor diet, antibiotics and other medications are some of the worst for immunity.
At the same time, obesity is strongly linked to heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic inflammation. (2)
Moreover, we also know that T-cell function decreases with age, which is why the elderly are more at risk.
However, the good news is that many of the causes of low immunity are controllable with diet and lifestyle changes, but more on that later…

Signs and Symptoms of a Weak Immune System

In general, people with a weak immune system tend to get sick more often and stay sick for longer.
As such, the most common signs and symptoms of a weak immune system include:
  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Repeated infections, especially respiratory and skin infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Regularly getting the cold or flu
  • Feeling stressed all the time
  • Chronic inflammation
With that said, the best way to know if you have low immunity is to ask your doctor to do a blood test.
He or she will be able to tell if your antibodies are in the normal range.

Signs and Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease

How do you tell if you’re dealing with a chronic autoimmune disease?
To start, autoimmune conditions, like…
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus, multiple sclerosis
  • Celiac disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • And ankylosing spondylitis
…can wreak havoc on your health.
Unfortunately, many people go for years without a diagnosis.
This is because the symptoms usually vary so much from person to person.
Therefore, many people develop symptoms slowly without even realizing it.
As a result, the road to a diagnosis can be long and arduous.
In fact, the average person goes to six doctors before they’re diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.
Some of the most common symptoms of autoimmune disease include:
  • ADHD
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Eczema
  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Rosacea
  • Frequent colds
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Thyroid issues
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Gas
If you have any of these symptoms, you’re not alone.
Actually, the rate of chronic conditions has been rising rapidly over the last few decades.
For example, the New York Times recently reported that young people today are five times more likely to have celiac disease than in the 1950s. (3)

5 Ways to Boost Immunity

Don’t worry, there is light at the end of the tunnel…
And, with the right diet and lifestyle choices, you can strengthen your immune system.
Here’s how:

1. Eating Right

Your diet plays a huge role in the strength of your immune system.
Surprisingly, it’s more about what you don’t eat than what you do.
First off, harmful microbes love sugar and the immune system reacts poorly to a high-sugar diet. (4)
And, that’s because your gut is part of the body’s first line of defense against germs.
Next, other foods, like starchy carbs and processed foods from the freezer aisle, should be avoided.
So what foods should you eat to boost immunity?
Here are three of the best foods for a stronger immune system:
  • Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen: one of the most important nutrients for gut health and immunity. Collagen is a protein that strengthens the gut lining and protects the bloodstream from invaders and toxins.
  • Electrolyte-containing foods like celery, cucumbers, broccoli, almonds, spinach, avocados, and berries are loaded with electrolytes: minerals that are essential to immunity.
  • Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut contain healthy bacteria called “probiotics” that strengthen the gut lining and support immunity.
Actually, research shows that illnesses in immunocompromised patients often start in the gut. (5)
However, by strengthening the gut lining with healthy foods, you can boost immune function.

2. Herbs and Supplements

It’s hard to always eat healthy during the busy work week.
Fortunately, certain antimicrobial herbs and supplements can help you fill in the nutritional gaps.
Some of the best supplements for immunity are:
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Probiotics
  • Echinacea
  • Elderberry

3. Quality Sleep

Quality sleep, and plenty of it, is a major key to stronger immunity.
Poor sleep, on the other hand, triggers inflammation and suppresses immune function.
Thus, do your best to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
And, if you’re having trouble getting enough sleep, try these tips:
  • Avoid late-night snacks
  • Stop using electronic devices within an hour of bedtime
  • Read a book for 20 minutes before bed
  • Always go to bed and wake up at the same time
  • Take a warm bath before bed

4. Exercise More

Regular exercise reduces stress and inflammation.
As a result, it also boosts immunity.
On the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of immunodeficiency. (6)
Plus, a lack of exercise can lead to problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Therefore, try to exercise outdoors whenever you can.
This is because vitamin from the sun is proven to support a healthy immune system. (7)

5. Reduce Stress

Activities that reduce stress are good for immunity.
Chronic stress, as it turns out, damages the gut lining, increases inflammation, and weakens immunity.
By focusing on self-care practices, like meditation and breathing exercises, you can reduce stress and strengthen immune function.
If you have any more questions about how to strengthen your immune system, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.