As an Autoimmune Sister you know a weakened immune system has something to do with your autoimmune diagnosis, or suspicion of having one that hasn’t been diagnosed yet.
What are the causes for a weakened immune system?
Knowing the answer to this question gives you clues and healing opportunities to either manage your autoimmunity condition better or reverse it altogether.
You may have also seen or heard the word “immunocompromised” being thrown around in conversation about autoimmune issues.
Immunocompromised simply means having a weakened immune system; it doesn’t mean you have to have a more chronic illness such as an autoimmune condition. In fact, a weakened immune system can occur over time from the accumulation of stressors such as:
- Mental or emotional stress
- Various nutrient deficiencies
- Going to bed late or not sleeping through the night
- Eating processed and inflammatory foods or drinking alcohol
- Exercising too intensely when you’re already stressed or exhausted
- Toxins you’re exposed to at home, work, medications or in your food and products
It wouldn’t be crazy to say that all of us have some level of a weakened immune system given this list, and especially right now with the stress associated with the state of the world.
If you think about your daily life, it’s easy to see how these causes for a weakened immune system can quickly add up within a single day or over time.
When Does An Autoimmune Disease Develop?
An autoimmune condition develops when your immune system becomes weakened, overwhelmed, and confused about who the good and bad guys are. As a result, your immune system begins attacking healthy cells of various tissues, depending on what type of autoimmunity you have.
Along with autoimmunity, either because of it or the triggers for it, there are also a number of inflammatory conditions that correlate with being on the autoimmune spectrum, such as:
- Excess Weight
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Meaning, if you have any of these inflammatory conditions listed above and haven’t been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, then these conditions increase your risk because they are indications or causes of a weakened immune system. If you have autoimmunity, these conditions can aggravate your autoimmune symptoms by stressing the immune system even more.
What About My Gut?!
As Dr. Amy Myers points out in her book, The Autoimmune Solution, twin studies have shown that only 25% of autoimmune disease is inheritable, meaning that 75% of it is related to the environment and leaky gut.
Researchers estimate that approximately 70% of your immune system resides in the intestinal lining of your gut.
One of the number one causes of a weakened immune system is the state of your gut health. To understand the causes for a weakened immune system better, think of it like this:
Stress is anything that places a burden on your body resulting in inflammation and dysfunction. The immune system’s job is to respond to stressors.
Imagine you have a stress cup, and every day drops of stress from the list of causes above can get added to your cup. If you don’t empty your cup daily or limit the number of drops being added, eventually your stress cup overflows and causes a weakened immune system that has been overloaded with too much stress to deal with.
The good news is there are plenty of simple things you can do to offset the accumulation of stressors and not only boost your immune system but also build your health.
The goal is to reduce the number of drops that go into your stress cup and empty it daily to prevent it from overflowing. This can help you avoid the causes of a weakened immune system and restore one you might already have.
How to Boost Your Weakened Immune System
Here are my top 5 tips for boosting immunity and building health:
- Avoid inflammatory and toxic foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, soy and alcohol
- Be asleep by 10pm OR earlier – every hour before 12am is worth 2 hours of rest
- Move your body daily at a moderate intensity to break a sweat without overdoing it
- Do deep breathing before meals – inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5, exhale for 7, repeat 5-10 times
- Get outside daily for fresh air and sunlight to boost detoxification and balance your body’s natural rhythm
Doing these things doesn’t take much time, energy, or resources so they are within your reach and doable.
If I was to pick ONE thing for you to focus on right now out of all of them, it would be sleep. We must learn to value sleep more than diet, exercise and even supplements. Getting to bed before 10pm positively impacts your immune system, hormone balance, energy, and overall health on a huge scale.
Another major modern-day cause for a weakened immune system is being too busy. Think about how many times you or people you know have:
- Come to work sick
- Pushed through the pain
- And kept going till burn out
Because there was “too much to do.” All of this suppresses your immune system, making you susceptible to the common cold, flu, chronic illness, and pandemic type viruses such as COVID-19.
Your body can only heal in a relaxed state.
If you’re always on-the-go, when does your body have time to heal and to strengthen its defenses?
To strengthen your immune system, it’s also important to:
- Slow down
- Let go of being busy
- Look inward instead of out
- Be with yourself and those closest to you
- Practice patience and hold space for health
- Take time to create and contemplate what is important
Interestingly, these are also basic practices that help you to build and maintain your health, and they were pivotal parts of my health journey. These practices helped me to reverse Hashimoto’s, balance my hormones, restore my energy, and get back to my ideal body.
Did this answer all of your questions about what causes a weakened immune system and how to strengthen it? Leave us a comment below to let us know!