5 REASONS WHY YOU’RE GOING TO GET SICK & HOW TO FIX!
Ever wondered why we even get sick in the first place? What causes your body to be riddled with the ‘common cold’, chronic inflammation or even the yearly strain of influenza? Well contrary to what you may have been told, sickness is actually a way of your body telling you that something you are, or are not doing in your environment, is inhibiting your best immune response to pathogens and disease.
Nowadays there are a plethora of environmental factors that could lead to you getting sick. These are top 5 reasons why you are getting sick at least once a year.
#1 POOR SLEEP HYGEINE
Sleep is completely under our control, yet is so often the forgotten jewel for fending off disease and sickness. Not having a choice whether we want to sleep or not means that we pretty much take it for granted. We’ve all stayed up until 3am watching YouTube videos or scrolling through Instagram pages for hours whilst in bed. This is all eating into the quality of our sleeping patterns. Consequently, it affects us finding a consistent time our body can adjust to falling asleep.
Sleep is majorly important as all the physical and/or mental activity from the previous day has utilised much of the energy within all the cells of the body. Typically, when we exercise hard, this depletes the energy within the muscle cells. By then failing to fall asleep at an optimal time, we are limiting our body’s potential to go through the repair and rebuild cycle. Even if this process occurs over a matter of days, you are destined to get sick.
#1 FIX: Commit to consistently getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night. The amount of sleep needed will naturally vary from person to person because of a host of factors including physical activity, stress, and dietary habits, which all have an effect on the quality of your sleep. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night will ensure for the best part, that you remain well rested to reduce your chances of getting sick. That means if you know you have to get up at 5:30am on weekdays, you make sure you are falling asleep by 11:30pm at the very latest! Sleep is your ‘bestie’ don’t try and fight it. Submit to the pillow.
#2 CHRONIC STRESS
Chronic stress is definitely contributing to you getting sick. In stressful situations, the hormone cortisol is released which helps your body respond to stressful situations. Typically, the hormone noradrenaline then follows which facilitates the ‘fight or flight’ phenomenon.
Ancestrally acute or temporary stress was actually necessary for us to survive in such hostile environments. If we were confronted by a hungry lion, this deadly encounter would be hugely stressful leading to a cascade of hormonal responses. Today, this would never happen of course. However, the body only perceives stressful situations through the eyes of the individual. Let me explain. People who work jobs they hate are subjecting themselves to pretty stressful situations on a daily basis which could potentially accumulate into months and even years. There are many sickening effects from this process. Psychologically, work related stress will eventually result in high levels of anxiety if left unresolved. Physiologically, work related stress can affect your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
The point is, chronic stress subjects your body to a constant release of hormones. This will inevitably lead to fatigue of the metabolic and immune responses in your body. So, when pathogens enter the body, and the immune system is required to fight off the pathogen, there is an insufficient response because of the hyper stimulation of the metabolic and immune system from chronic stress. As a result, you get sick. The body can only effectively tolerate acute stress.
#1 FIX: Identify your triggers. This means looking at the things that are contributing to your stress and being aware they are a problem. This is the first step. For example, it is meaningless worrying over things you have no control over such as, if your boss likes you, or, letting the opinions of others introduce fear and anxiety into you. As long as you within yourself know that you have done everything within your power to reduce the occurrence of a stressful situation, everything else doesn’t matter. Let me explain. This means taking control of the things you do have control over, such as always departing to destinations with spare time in mind to avoid the stress of rushing. Or being approachable to everyone around you regardless of how they treat you. By exhibiting these values in your life, you are not giving anyone the reason to create stressful situations in your life. As a result you reduce the event of overstimulating your stress hormones.
#3 INSUFFICIENT MOVEMENT
Movement is therapy. It is becoming more and more common that a lack of movement is getting people sick. When you exercise, the demands of the heart and lungs to supply the muscular system are increased so your heart and breathing rate adapts by increasing the total number of beats or breaths per minute.
When you don’t move enough you are not demanding the heart to shift blood and utilise oxygen around the entire circulatory system. This leads to a lack of physical stress in the body. As mentioned above, acute physical stress, is handled well by the body. As a result, deposits of fat or other pathogenic bodies can lay dormant or even accumulate in the blood vessels and skin tissues. This causes inflammation within the body and subsequently sickness prevails.
#1 FIX: Commit to at least 30 mins movement. Moving you body that gets you breathing harder than you normally would EVERYDAY – but still able to maintain a conversation – is actually a necessity for longevity. This can be anything from brisk walking, to gardening to lifting weights in a gym. By doing this you are utilising the energy stores in the form of fat and carbohydrates, which is reducing the chances of an accumulation of fats and/or pathogenic bodies in the blood vessels and skin tissues. Additionally, by moving regularly you are reducing your chances of getting sick via the lymphatic system. This is where the by-products of exercise accumulate (lactic acid or toxins). Exercise will ensure the contents of the lymphatic system are being constantly circulated metabolised efficiently.
#4 POOR DIETARY CHOICES
Choosing foods that are highly processed and high in refined sugar and salt is inadvertently going to get you sick. A lot of marketing goes into foods so sometimes it can be difficult to decide what foods support healthy functioning. Generally, foods that look nothing like natural wholefoods seen in nature should be avoided. Highly processed, refined foods have been processed multiple times and stripped of vital nutrients like fibre and mineral rich micronutrients. The end product is usually a rich nutrient deficient source of food which cause a rapid spike in blood glucose – NOT IDEAL. The absence of nutrient dense vitamins and minerals in refined foods will mean you don’t feel the satiety signal from the food you have eaten. As a result, you’re not getting the optimal nutritional value from foods to facilitate the maintenance and recovery of your body’s cells and tissues. Chronic nutrient deficiency through an overabundance of refined foods in your diet will you get sick eventally.
#1 FIX: A diet rich in a variety of whole foods. Make sure your daily food intake is rich in a variety of whole, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods. The food plate below is an simple example of the proportions of each food type you should be aiming to consume for a diet that will support optimal immune functioning.
#5 LACK OF COLD EXPOSURE
A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away. In life, like anything, you require balance in order to thrive. Therefore, when your body is constantly subjected to warmth, it can actually make you sick.
By failing to expose yourself to brief periods of cold exposure, you do not allow your body to adapt by stimulating more immune response cells. Additionally, you do not maximise the capabilities of your lymphatic system. This system is responsible for removing bi-products of metabolism, bacteria and other pathogens within the cells of the body. If the lymphatic system is not effectively cycling and removing these bi-products then they will accumulate causing joint pain, infection and ultimately sickness.
#1 FIX: Start by take a cold shower. The water should be cold enough to cause you to breath harder and faster. This should be done at least twice a week. By taking cold showers you are causing the peripheral blood vessels to constrict which shunts blood from the peripheral vessels to the vital organs. As this vasoconstriction occurs this also shifts lactic acid and by-products of exercise to the central vessels where it can be filtered and processed. This greatly reduces your chances of getting sick. This can then be progressed to ice baths. There is great discomfort from cold showers/ice baths but the benefits far outweigh the brief discomfort experience.
This is why the majority of elite sports performers like Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Wim Hoff routinely, use cold exposure as part of their training.
All the areas discussed above are strategies that can be taken reduce the occurrence of you getting sick. Making immediate and drastic changes may not be a safe or sustainable way of changing your habits long term. It’s very important to be mindful that individually these lifestyle changes can lead to a more robust immune system, however the accumulative effect of gradually implementing each principle will be much greater.
About the Author
Christopher Djan is a passionate health and fitness enthusiast that consistently delivers results for his clients. He has been in the fitness industry for over 7 years and has amassed much of his knowledge through a variety of clientele and self-learning. He works at the forefront of creating innovative strategies for client based goals and breaking through boundaries encountered. He has currently stolen "When you want to succeed as much as you want to breath, then you'll be successful!" as his own.