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Your daily habits play a huge role in how your immune system functions.  Ideally, you want to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet, exercise regularly and minimize stress.  Washing your hands often also helps you stay germ-free.  If you find yourself constantly getting sick, some of your lifestyle choices may be to blame.  Here are some habits that weaken your immune system.

Getting less sleep than your body needs

Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep to function properly.  While you’re asleep, your body produces a protein called cytokines, which is used to fight inflammation and infections.  People who don’t get enough rest are more likely to get sick.  Chronic sleep loss can also increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s rest, here are some tips that can help you sleep better.

  • Go to bed and wake up the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Exercise daily but not close to bedtime.

Poor dental hygiene

Having poor dental hygiene increases your risk of pneumonia, heart disease and can affect your body’s ability to accept insulin if you have diabetes.  To properly care for your teeth and gums, you must brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day for at least two minutes.  Plus, you need to floss your teeth every night before bed.  It’s also recommended that you visit your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning.

Consuming too much alcohol

Since stay at home orders were issued, online alcohol sales have gone through the roof.  We understand that you may be running out of things to do at home, but binge drinking isn’t the best solution for your boredom.  For the record, binge drinking is described as 4 or more drinks at a time for women and 5 or more for men.  Drinking excessively increases your risk of getting sick.  In the long run, it can also lead to high blood pressure, digestive problems, stroke, dementia, and cancer.  To minimize your risk, it’s a good idea to reduce your alcohol intake to 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men.  Or, you can cut it out completely.

Smoking

More than 480,000 people die in the U.S. every year due to cigarettes.  Smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths.  It can cause cancer, lung diseases, stroke, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.  If you want to live as long as possible, we suggest kicking the habit because smokers tend to die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Not drinking enough water

If you don’t want to get sick, make water your best friend.  The goal is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Staying hydrated eliminates toxins from your body, lubricates your joints, helps fight off illnesses like constipation and kidney stones, and can improve blood circulation.  When you don’t drink enough water, you’ll have a higher risk of stroke, less energy, and your skin can start to suffer.  You may also experience more headaches.  Easy ways to sip more water include:

  • Bringing a reusable water bottle with you and refilling it throughout the day.
  • Drinking a glass before every meal.
  • Adding fresh fruits or sliced vegetables for flavor.
  • Eating more foods with high water content like celery, watermelon, and zucchini.