7 Signs of a Weak Immune System & What to Do Next
Your immune system is your body’s #1 defense against sickness, so obviously, if you have a weak immune system, you want to find ways to support it and keep yourself healthy! We have both 7 signs of a weak immune system and 7 ways to support it to help you stay sickness-free!
- A weakened immune system will keep you from losing weight and fighting infection.
- There are symptoms that can signal your immune system issues so you can start supporting it.
- Making healthy diet and lifestyle changes can bolster your immune system without medication.
What is Your Immune System?
Your immune system is your body’s defense against all illnesses and other foreign substances. More specifically, it protects you against harmful viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that could cause illness. Your immune system is made up primarily of organs, proteins, and other cells that work together to provide a defense.
There are two types of immunity in which your immune system works. Innate immunity is immunity that you are born with. It is essentially a blanket attack on foreign substances that try and enter your body and, if strong enough, should be able to stop most colds and other common illnesses. Adaptive immunity is more of a learned defense, one that your body starts to learn as it encounters other harmful viruses and bacteria, known as antigens. Your immune system after encountering the antigen will then remember it and hopefully, remember how to keep it out next time.
Most specifically it employs white blood cells to fight off any infections. The white blood cells usually go around the body and heal little cuts and other injuries, but they also support your immune system. Occasionally those white blood cells will overreact to the antigens in their body and cause extra inflammation. The overreaction is what leads to allergies, as the body now thinks that antigen is harmful. (1)
Reasons You Could Have a Weak Immune System
There are many reasons that you could have a weak immune system, most commonly a condition or an autoimmune disease of which there are more than 100. Several conditions like Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis can cause you to become “immunocompromised” with a weak immune system. Aside from those, there are several other reasons to have a weak immune system. As you grow older, your body slows its production of white blood cells, which then weakens your immune system.
Aside from age, poor nutrition can also be a big factor in your weakened immune system. 70% of your body’s immune system is in your gut, or your stomach, so the food that you put in there will greatly affect it. Your stomach has its microbiome where the good bacteria live to keep you healthy. The microbiome also helps your immune system by regulating its reactions to certain antigens. By eating processed foods, you are adding bad bacteria into your microbiome which can then create something called dysbiosis. This is where your stomach lining thins, and subsequently allows toxins to leak into your bloodstream and affect your white blood cells. (1)
Signs of a Weak Immune System
There are several signs of a weak immune system, all of which combined should be easy to pick out. If you think that these signs may apply to you, we suggest that you speak to your doctor to evaluate whether you may have a further disease or condition.
1. Waking Up Fatigued
If you are constantly waking up fatigued, there’s a chance you may have a weak immune system. Always feeling foggy, tired, or exhausted even after sleeping for more than 8 hours may be a sign. (1)
2. Catching Every Illness
If you find yourself catching every cold, cough, or other minor illness that goes around your community or you must take antibiotics several times a year is another sign. The length of time that it takes you to overcome an illness also reflects on the strength of your immune system. (1)
3. Slowly Healing Cuts or Bruises
White blood cells are needed around your body to heal cuts, bruises, and other injuries, so if they are held up or suppressed by a weak immune system, it’s going to take much longer to heal those injuries. (2)
4. Frequent Digestive Issues
Frequent stomach problems like bloating or pain may be an issue with the microbiome in your stomach where you have a bad balance of bacteria. This could also be a sign of dysbiosis, which leads to a weak immune system. (1)
5. Delayed Growth and Development in Children
For young children that are still growing and developing, a stunt or delay may be a sign of a weak immune system. The child may not be getting the proper nutrient, which causes their immune system to weaken. There are many other reasons that there may be a delay, but this one is easy to investigate and fix by adding more Vitamins A, B, and C into their diet. (3)
6. Lots of Weird Breakouts or Rashes
If you find yourself experiencing more acne than normal, new (and unusual) eczema rashes or rashes of any other kind it may be a sign of a weak immune system. Because your skin is the first line of defense against these bacteria and other antigens, it may be the first to have inflammation and is the most visible sign of a weak immune system. (1)
7. Inability to Lose Weight
If you struggle to lose weight no matter what you try, there may also be an issue with your immune system. It could be associated with either chronic stress or inflammation, but both are related to poor immune systems. (1)
Ways to Support Your Weak Immune System
If you think that you may have a weak immune system, there are several things that you can do to try and support it and make it stronger.
1. Healthy Diet
By removing processed foods, preservatives, refined sugar, gluten, and or dairy from your diet you can help to give your microbiome a break. All those foods are harsh on both your stomach and your immune system and are also known to cause inflammation. By adding things like protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables as well as fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut to your diet you can start to improve your microbiome and thus your immune system. (1)
2. Add Anti-Inflammatory Spices and Herbs
Adding anti-inflammatory spices and herbs into your diet can help to keep inflammation down and fight infection. Here is a list of good anti-inflammatory herbs that you can add to most meals: (1)
- Fresh Parsley
3. Get Lots of Sleep
You need sleep for every element of your body, including your immune system. Getting bad sleep will increase your stress hormones which then promote inflammation in your body. (1)
Exercise is also important for almost everything that you do. It can help to improve your sleep and help to fight stress within your body. Exercise is also important because if you have too much stomach fat, your body will start to release cytokines. Cytokines are a good protein that tells your immune system to start working when it notices an antigen, but too many of them can cause inflammation and other negative effects on the immune system. (1)
5. Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking less alcohol is another way to support your weak immune system. Alcohol is essentially a poison, and also isn’t great for your skin, which you want to keep healthy as your first defense. (1)
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking, once again, is terrible for everything in your body, especially your immune system. It is bad for your stomach health and your microbiome which in turn increases inflammation in your body. (1)
7. Reduce or Manage Your Stress
Our last tip for supporting a weak immune system is to either reduce or manage your stress levels throughout the day. While managing stress is important for your wellbeing, too much stress can also produce hormones that suppress your immune system. Things like meditation or other relaxing activities can help! (3)
Written by Alyssa Thompson