Why You Always Get Sick No Matter What
Some people seem to have ironclad immune systems. Some people haven’t felt ill – not even with minor nausea or allergies – in several years. Some people, no matter how slovenly they live, no matter what they eat, no matter how much pollen is in the air or how many coworkers have succumbed to flu, just don’t get sick.
That isn’t you though.
You have been suffering from a minor cough for more than a decade, and you catch the flu every season. It’s not like you are licking door knobs or making snow angels in your underwear, so what gives?
Some people are simply genetically more susceptible to illness. In studies of MRSA, Ebola and Nipah virus, researchers identified a section of the population who enjoyed much-delayed onset of symptoms as well as less severe symptoms – and a group of sufferers who experienced the opposite. Though research has not yet revealed what about a person’s genetic make-up could trigger such disparate reactions, they are certain that vulnerability or resistance to disease is in your genes.
Until there is a strict test for genetic immune-deficiency, you should arm yourself with the best protections against illness. Why get a flu shot? Because it will bolster your immune system against influenza attacks. In fact, you should stay up-to-date on all your vaccines, and you should evaluate how your lifestyle might be impacting your immune response. For example:
It’s Your Sleeping Habits
When you sleep, your body and mind go into maintenance and repair mode, which works wonders on nearly every system, from your brain to your bones. Keeping these systems healthy is mandatory for warding off disease – but there is an even more precise reason to get enough sleep every night. During Stage Three of sleep, your body releases cytokines, which are proteins that fight inflammation and disease. If you are sleep-deprived, your body lacks enough cytokines to efficiently fight infections and viruses, resulting in a greater likelihood of falling ill.
It’s Your Diet
Your body needs a variety of nutrients to function well – and barely any nutrients are found in Cool Ranch Doritos and Code Red Mountain Dew. You need a balanced diet, one primary made of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins and whole grains, to provide your immune system with the ammunition it needs to fight disease. Additionally, you should drink enough fluids to keep you hydrated, which means about half a gallon of water or similar sugarless, non-carbonated beverages.
You should strive to limit your intake of fats, sodium and sugar, which are found in abundance in the modern American diet but not particularly valuable to health. Instead, you should focus on acquiring high amounts of vitamins A, B6, C, D and E as well as zinc, selenium, iron and probiotics.
As if stress weren’t bad enough on your mind and body, too much stress for too long can actually make you sick. Modern lifestyles often impose long periods of stress on human bodies, which wreaks havoc on the endocrine system and results in unpredictable levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Unfortunately, whether you have too much or too little cortisol in your body, your immune system will suffer.
You might be sick so often because you are subjected to untenable amounts of stress. You should evaluate whether you are suffering from burnout, which is an even more extreme version of chronic stress. Then, you should take steps to reduce your stress, perhaps by enjoying a long vacation, reallocating responsibilities or performing some other lifestyle shift.
It’s Your Hygiene
No one likes to think of themselves as dirty, but some people just aren’t as clean as they need to be to avoid sickness. At the very least, you should compulsively wash your hands: before and after making food, before eating, after using the water closet, after coming in contact with children, after handling pets, after touching garbage of any sort and so much more. You should also shower at least once per week or more often if you are active. Finally, you should pat attention to your oral hygiene as studies show that those with dirtier mouths are less likely to have healthy bodies.
It’s a Disorder
If you devote a few weeks or months to adopting lifestyle changes and you still aren’t seeing any improvement in your health, it might be time to contact a doctor. There are a variety of immune system disorders that impair your body’s ability to fight disease, resulting in a near-constant state of sickness. A doctor will be able to run tests, make diagnoses, form treatment plans and help you get better for good.