Right now we are being bombarded with information about how to stay healthy in the midst of a pandemic. Everywhere we turn there are news stories about who is at risk and new guidelines about how to protect ourselves from COVID-19. It is often hard to know what is just a trend and what is a fact. One thing that researchers and experts agree on is that strengthening our immune system can make us less susceptible to illness. Choosing health, including sobriety, is important for a strong immune system.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders including bacteria and viruses. When the immune system is not working properly it leaves our bodies more susceptible to allergies, illnesses, and autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders happen when the immune system is not strong and the body mistakenly begins attacking its own cells and tissues causing a myriad of long-term problems.
What Strengthens the Immune System?
Choosing a healthy lifestyle is the first line of defense in helping our immune system do its job. The more healthy choices we make, the easier it is for our immune system to focus on keeping us healthy.
Some steps that we can take to make our immune system stronger include:
- Eating healthy – more fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein; less sugar, white flour, and processed foods;
- Getting enough rest – sleeping 6-8 hours per night gives the body adequate rest;
- Exercise – Regular exercise, even taking a daily walk, helps maintain weight and avoid a sedentary lifestyle;
- Practice good hygiene – wash hands frequently and cook foods to proper temperatures;
- Stop smoking – tobacco weakens the immune system
- Choose sobriety – eliminating alcohol and drugs supports healthy immune function
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What About Vitamins and Supplements?
Unfortunately, there is no pill or magic remedy that can make our immune systems stronger. Since it is a system and not a single cell or organ in our body, it requires more than just a single strategy to boost immunity. Ultimately, there are no vitamins or supplements that can fix the unhealthy choices that we make. The single best strategy to make our immune systems stronger is making healthier choices, including sobriety.
How do Alcohol and Drugs Affect the Immune System?
Research shows that alcohol and drugs have negative effects on the immune system. People who drink alcohol regularly are more susceptible to respiratory infections including pneumonia, while binge drinking slows down the body’s immune responses for up to 24 hours after alcohol consumption. Legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine and illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine affect many components of the immune system and make us more susceptible to disease. Even some prescription drugs, like opioids, can cause the immune system to function less than optimally.
Sobriety is Important for a Strong Immune System!
There are many reasons why people choose sobriety. The motivations for living a life free from alcohol and drugs are as diverse as the people in recovery. For some, it is to change habits, rebuild relationships, and gain a fresh start. For others, it is for increased financial, career, or health success. Regardless of the reason, there is no better time than now to choose sobriety or continued sobriety on the path to a healthier life. Building a strong immune system is just one of the many benefits of choosing freedom from addiction.
Choosing a healthier life is the first step but these are challenging times. Many people have lost their jobs, are struggling with health concerns, and are overwhelmed by the rapid pace of world changes. The internet has glorified substance use as a coping mechanism with the “quarantini” and “chugging during quarantine”. It is more important than ever for us to seek help and develop healthier skills to face the challenges of life.
Staying Strong in Your Sobriety and Having a Strong Immune System
A strong support system and a team of professionals can support the journey to sobriety and help reduce the stress that major life changes can bring. With a collaborative treatment philosophy and experienced clinical staff, Ocean Hills Recovery Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center is a great place to start your journey.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.