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5 surprising signs your immune system needs added support

By Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

Your immune system is an invisible part of you that, let's face it, up until this year, you may not have thought much about. But now that cold and flu and Covid-19 season is here, strong and resilient immunity is a must. You need to know -- is your immune function ready for the challenge ahead or could it use some extra support?

A woman wearing a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic to protect her health

Answering this question starts with assessing the current state of your immune health, including these 5 surprising signs that your immune system could use a boost.

You’re under chronic stress

Do you often come down with a cold or bad case of the sniffles after a big project at work or big emotional situation at home? The underlying culprit could be stress, which is a known factor for weakening immune system response. Stress, and the cascade of hormonal and physiological changes it triggers in the body, is associated with decreased levels of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight off infection.This puts you at risk for things like viral infections.

If you are under chronic stress — and honestly, who isn’t these days? — you need to take immediate corrective measures to protect yourself and provide immune system support. Rebalance stress hormones with a quality stress-relief supplement, and use mind-body techniques such as meditation to cut the stress. Your immune system will thank you.

You have digestive issues

Research shows that over 70% of your immune cells are located in your digestive tract, making your gut a major “home base” for your body’s immunity. All along the lining of your gut, beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that live there defend your gut from infection and support immune function, including the production of white blood cells.

When not enough good bacteria flourishes, bad bacteria moves in, disturbing all your intestinal immune function, and putting you at increased risk for infection and autoimmune disorders. Having lots of digestive issues — including gas and bloating– is a sign that your good gut bacteria may be short supply and needs restocking with a quality probiotic.

You’re tired all the time

Constantly feel exhausted, even after just waking up from a full night’s sleep? This could be a warning sign from your immune system. According to researchers, when immune function is struggling, the body will attempt to funnel more energy to the immune system to get it back up to speed. This added effort can leave the rest of you feeling depleted and tired.

If your energy levels are rock bottom, and you really can’t explain why, try an antioxidant supplement for immune system support. Antioxidant compounds help to protect immunity at the cellular level and enhance immune function.

Your diet is high in sugar

Eating or drinking too much sugar can dampen your immune function, putting your white blood cells into a sort of “coma,” as researchers describe it. You want your immune system to be ready for action, so ditch sugary foods and embrace foods that provide immune support. These include fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, including berries, citrus fruits, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Another favorite immune-building food is garlic, which contains natural compounds that help fight viruses and bacteria. Some mushroom varieties — such as shiitake — also help strengthen immune function.

Your wounds take a long time to heal

Whenever you get a paper cut or scrape your knee, your body sends nutrient-richblood to the injury to jumpstart healing and skin regeneration. To be a success, this process relies on healthy immune cells. So if your scrapes, cuts and other skin wounds take a long time to heal, this can be a sign of compromised immunity, often triggered by underlying diabetes. If you do notice slow healing wounds, please get checked out by your doctor.

Ready to learn more about how to keep your immunity robust and strong? Read my companion blog: 5 vitamins and nutrients that support the immune system.

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Published: November 18, 2020 - Last Updated: April 2, 2021

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