Lifestyle factors and immune health

Reducing the negative impact of lifestyle factors on immune health

With a fast paced lifestyle, it is natural for our immune system to be threatened by a number of factors. This is evident through numerous studies1, which indicate that our everyday choices have a significant impact on our bodies’ immune response. Stress, urgency, a lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet are all lifestyle factors which can weaken the immune system. Hence, making healthy lifestyle choices is fundamental for improving the health of your immune system. Which of these factors should you pay most attention to? Read on to learn more.

A lack of quality sleep

It is important to note that your immune system isn’t just affected by the amount of sleep you get, but the quality of sleep you get as well. You need to achieve the right number of “deep sleep” hours if you want to boost your immunity. Adults need between 7 to 9 hours of undisturbed sleep2 in order for the body to maintain a healthy immune response. If you aren’t sleeping well, you may want to try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Alternatively, switching off all screens approximately an hour before bedtime is also a good idea as it’s generally easier for your brain to go to sleep in a dark setting.

Insufficient physical activity

Regular physical activity strongly affects your immunity and can help you to avoid infections3. Conversely, if you are not physically active at all, you are preventing your immune system from building up the strength it needs to fend off infections like a common cold and flu. That’s why it’s important to get in the habit of staying active. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, start doing basic strength training or jogging a few times a week. Even a few minutes of brisk daily walking counts and will eventually pay off in the form of a boosted immune system that’s better at fending off infections.


Hanging around smokers while they are smoking can also affect your immune system, as the substances found in cigarette smoke can weaken your body’s ability to resist infections. If you want to have strong immunity, don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, consider that your white blood cells are constantly playing defence, as these cells have to continuously fight off the damage caused by cigarette smoke. Quitting smoking will help improve the strength of your immune system.

Poor diet

Constantly in a rush, no time for quality food? That’s a big risk to your immunity. Along with stress and sleep, nutrition is a key factor linked to your body’s immune response.4 Food is the most basic source of energy, and a source of the essential vitamins and minerals needed to maintain the health of your immune system. If you don’t have a healthy diet, your immune system cannot work at its best. So, consider reducing fast food consumption and enjoy tasty, nourishing meals instead. Make sure you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which form the foundation of a healthy and nutritious diet!

Lack of vitamin and mineral supplementation

There are various immune-boosting supplements available on the market. A lack of intake of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and the like, can put you at greater risk of having weak immunity. While the best way to get sufficient intake of daily nutrients is through your diet, you can also opt to take a health supplement to aid you in achieving a balanced diet.

The above are the most common lifestyle factors which can affect your immune health. As ongoing self care is key to bolstering your immunity, it may be time to rethink some lifestyle choices.


  1. How to boost your immune system, Harvard Health Publishing.
  2. How many hours of sleep are enough for good health? Answer From Eric J. Olson, M.D.
  3. How to prevent infections. Harvard Medical School, 2016. (Accessed 10/02/2020, at
  4. Song et al, 2019; Patel et al 2012 and Gombart et al 2020.
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