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7 Bad Mistakes That Are Weakening Your Immune System

1. Consuming too much sugar

According to clinical nutritionist Kristy Harvell, sugar competes with vitamin C for space in your immune system because the two are of a similar chemical structure. What exactly does that mean?

"The more sugar in your system, the less vitamin C can get into your white blood cells," she says. "Sugar does not help your immune system fight infection at all, resulting in a weakened defense from infections."

2. Not managing your stress

Don't stop yourself-care routinewhile you're stuck in quarantine. In fact, you might need it now more than ever. Providing comfort to your body and mind can help lower your stress levels, which is key to maintaining astrong immune system.

A 2012 study published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesfound that chronic stress results in glucocorticoid receptor resistance (GCR), which in turn,lowers your immune system's ability to fight off viruses. And for more ways to combat stress, check out these9 Tips on How to Stay Calm During the Quarantine.

3. Not getting enough sleep

Try to keep up with your sleep schedule right now—it matters. Why? A 2017 study published in the journalSleep monitored twins and their sleep patterns, finding that the sibling who habitually got less sleephad the weaker immune systemof the two. And for more issues that can result from insufficient rest, check out the25 Things You're Doing That Would Horrify Sleep Doctors.

4. Drinking too much alcohol

Lay off the alcohol right now. While it may be tempting to have few more glasses of wine than usual while you're stuck inside, it'snot the best choice for your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, a heightened level ofdrinking can cause a myriad of health complications, including weakened immune system. The experts say that "excessive alcohol use can make it harder for your body to resist disease, increasing your risk of various illnesses."

What is considered too much? For women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),excessive drinking is categorizedas having four or more drinks during a single occasion or eight or more drinks per week. For men, those numbers change to five and 15, respectively.

5. Not drinking enough water

Drinking plenty of water every day has avariety of health benefits—reversely, not doing so can have an array of negative effects.Eduardo Dolhun, MD,practicing family physicianand creator of DripDrop, says that "dehydration has a devastating impact" on your immune system by making your body unable to flush out toxins as fast as it normally would.

6. Not getting enough exercise

Whether it's anat-home workoutor a long walk—following safe social distancing practices, of course—regular exercise is crucial to a healthy immune system. A 2012 study published in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that over time, leading a sedentary lifestyleaffects your body's ability to fight infectionby impairing your immune system.

7. Or getting too much exercise

However, it's all about maintaining a healthy balance, because too much exercise can also harm your immune system. This is especially true if you're already sick, according to experts at WebMD: "When workouts get too strenuous, the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in your body can go down. At the same time, your stress hormone cortisol may go up, which mayinterfere with the ability of certain immune cellsto work right."

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