Everyday habits that weaken your immune system


Immunity is the balanced state of multicellular organisms that help fight diseases, infections and other forms of biological invasions which may lead to allergies. Almost every other human body is susceptible to numerous external attacks from microscopic organisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses. And for this, our bodies have developed a very unique and complex structure for protecting itself from such attacks.[1]
The human immune system retaliates to infections and other such attacks by releasing antibodies and chemicals like cytokines to contain and defuse the negative effects of foreign bodies. The skin, mucus, the gut and the lymph system are major parts of our  immune system. If your immunity is low or weak, you are more susceptible to sinus infections, colds and other malignant diseases. AIDS, for example, which is caused by HIV, destroys the white blood cells and weakens the entire immune system of the body[2]. But if you don’t notice any such symptoms, then your immunity is working just right.[3]

How daily habits affect the immune system

Living in a hygienic environment, washing your hands regularly, eating healthy and getting a healthy sleep every day are some of the effective ways of preventing your body from getting compromised. Most of your daily habits impact your immune system, the effects becoming more obvious with age as the T cell receptors grow less diverse. Thus, it’s highly recommended quitting the habits that harm your immune system and adopt the ones that will keep your body healthy.[4][5]

Daily habits that weaken the immune system

Let’s take a look at the common daily actions and other factors that are known to weaken the immune system.

Lack of sleep

While you sleep, your body releases different types of cytokines that help protect your body from infections and diseases, the production of which can be significantly decreased if you are sleep deprived. Poor sleep quality lowers the immune system’s functioning and reduces the level of white blood cells that fight germs and sleep deprivation is known to mitigate the production of cytokines released in case of infections. 

It is recommended that one should avoid skipping sleep. Developing proper sleep hygiene by being in the bed at a fixed time every night and trying to wake up at the same time every morning is bound to help. Getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night is needed to keep your immune system healthy. [6][7]

Sedentary lifestyle

Without much regard to age or gender and other harmful habits like alcohol consumption, living a sedentary lifestyle alone is associated with an increased risk of health problems. Inactivity eventually impairs the immune system, causes frequent inflammations and is maybe the reason behind other chronic diseases, according to a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2012.[8]

Including at least 30 minutes of exercise in your regimen is one of the best ways to keep your immune system up and running.[9][10]


he behavioural states and the central nervous system (CNS) have a complex relationship with the immune system of the body. The psychological response to life stress is a major parameter that determines the immunity of an individual. Mental pressure releases a hormone called Cortisol, which may be considered as the natural alarm system of the body. During periods of intense stress, Cortisol attempts to reduce inflammations by weakening the antibodies. Now, by the time the body comes in contact with germs or other harmful foreign bodies, its immune system has become too weak to fend them off.[11][12]

It is important to take control of stress and anxiety to strengthen your immune system. So make sure that you stay away from alcohol and caffeine, take proper sleep and eat a balanced diet. You must also keep taking short breaks between work and practice deep breathing for a few minutes. Regular exercise also helps a great deal.

High-fat diet

It is largely believed that obesity is associated with inflammations and consuming a high-fat diet unnecessarily activates an immune system response. Over time, this may weaken our immune system, making it  too weak when we need it the most.[13][14][15]

This can be prevented by consuming a healthier and a more balanced diet and by incorporating some form of aerobic exercise in the routine.[16]


Tobacco, in any form, when consumed affects the mucosal lining of the respiratory tract. But smoking in particular is known to compromise the immune system’s equilibrium and increases the risk for several autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis (where the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints in the body, causing swelling and pain), as suggested by a new study[17]. Moreover, smoking interferes with the rheumatoid arthritis treatment, making them largely ineffective.

The only fix to this problem is to say no to smoking.[18]


Overconsumption  of alcohol even once slows your body’s ability to fight infections for at least an entire day. Alcoholism is also one of the reasons why so many people get infected with pneumonia, liver disease and certain cancers.

Keeping the alcohol intake to a minimum will help keep your immune system active.[19]


Living with a more active lifestyle while incorporating some regular exercise is one of the main pillars of staying healthy. Our immune system is the vanguard and the only defence system that keeps us safe from all the foreign bodies that can potentially be fatal. Our daily routine and the activities that constitute the routine determine the health of our immune system to a great extent. The amount of sleep that we take, our diet, our activity and personal vices like smoking and alcoholism have a huge say in whether or not our body is strong enough to fend off disease causing germs and viruses. It is the individual’s responsibility to not let their immunity weaken.

[1] “The immune system: Cells, tissues, function, and disease.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320101. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[2] “What Are HIV and AIDS? | HIV.gov.” 5 Jun. 2020, https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[3] “Your Immune System: Things That Can Weaken It – WebMD.” 26 Mar. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-how-you-suppress-immune-system. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[4]  “How to boost your immune system – Harvard Health.” 6 Apr. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[5] “Your Immune System: Things That Can Weaken It – WebMD.” 26 Mar. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-how-you-suppress-immune-system. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[6] “Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[7] “How Sleep Affects Your Immunity – National Sleep Foundation.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[8] “Adult Sedentary Behavior – American Journal of Preventive ….” https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(11)00910-X/abstract. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[9] “Coupling aging immunity with a sedentary lifestyle: has the ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20029165. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[10] “The Immunomodulatory Effects of Physical Activity – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27000826/. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
[11] “Stress Weakens the Immune System – American Psychological.” https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[12] “Immune system. Relationship to anxiety disorders. – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3047704/. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[13] “Fatty food can weaken the immune system — ScienceDaily.” 10 Dec. 2009, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208132526.htm. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[14] “Scientists unearth vital link between fat, immunity and heat ….” 24 Apr. 2018, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424112901.htm. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[15] “Fat intake and immune response. – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8502755. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[16] “The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s ….” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[17] “Cigarettes Cause More Severe Arthritis – WebMD.” 15 Mar. 2002, https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/news/20020315/cigarettes-cause-more-severe-arthritis. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[18] “Impacts of cigarette smoking on immune responsiveness: Up ….” 25 Nov. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352117/. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.
[19] “Alcohol and the Immune System – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.