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Sure Signs Your Immune System Isn't as Strong as it Should Be

Learn how to tell if your immune system is weak. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Your immune system works hard to fight off forein invaders like infections and germs to keep you healthy and it never gets a break. It works around the clock everyday to protect you, so helping your immune system stay strong is vital to your overall well-being. So how can you help strengthen your immunity? Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Michael Hirt, a Board Certified Nutrition from Harvard University and Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is with The Center for Integrative Medicine in Tarzana California who shares what to know about your immune system, signs it's too weak and how to help boost it. As always, please speak with your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know About Your Immune System

Young woman touching painful neck, sore throat for flu, cold and infection.

Dr. Hirt tells us, "You know exercise can make your heart stronger. You know puzzles can make your brain smarter. However, even after two years of pandemic health lessons, people are still puzzled as to how to reliably make their immune system stronger. Like your cardiovascular and nervous systems, the immune system is subject to the same lifestyle choices that affect the rest of your body. Eat too much sugar, drink too much liquor, shorten your sleep hours, and you should not be surprised that you are going to wake up with your heart pounding, brain fogged in, and the start of a sore throat. You are the sum of your choices, and a robust immune system is no exception to your cumulative health investments (or lack thereof)."


How the Immune System Can Work Against the Body

Young upset stressed woman suffering from abdominal and stomach pain during menstruation, PMS in room at home. Inflammation and infection. Food poisoning

"The innate programming of your immune system is only to attack microbial threats and coordinate repairs ranging from skin scrapes to broken bones," says Dr. Hirt. "Under the influence of environmental toxins, intestinal imbalances (from diet and bacteria), and genetic tendencies, some parts of your immune system can go 'rogue' and attack the body it was sworn to only defend. This is called an auto-immune condition because the immune system is attacking parts of self like joints, skin, or internal organs. This is never supposed to happen, serves no evolutionary benefit, and requires major lifestyle changes, detoxification, and medical interventions to stop the attack and remove the triggers of self-attack. Without a coordinated healing effort, the immune system will likely continue to attack itself and require strong, immune-suppressive measures."


How to Boost Your Immune System

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Dr. Hirt shares, "If you're thinking of trying to boost your immune system, consider how you would boost the effectiveness of your nation's defense forces. To have a stronger, more effective military, you would feed them healthy food, ensure they are well rested, avoid unnecessary stress, house them on clean bases, provide cutting edge equipment, and have plenty of munitions so they never run out of bullets and missiles. Same with your immune system. Eat the healthiest food you can, in the cleanest environment you can, under the least stress you can, having had the most restful sleep you can, and taking the best vitamins you can including zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D.  Just like our military, your immune system never gets to take a collective break from defending you from all threats, both foreign and domestic." 


You're Sick on a Monthly Basis

Portrait of confident doctor in private clinic

Dr. Hirt states, "Most adults get a cold or flu 2 – 3 times yearly. If you're calling in sick on a monthly basis, you could have a more significant immune deficiency that needs testing and treatments."


Wounds Take Weeks to Heal


"When you cut your self, superficial wounds typically take seven days to heal," Dr. Hirt tells us. "If you are watching your skin take weeks to heal, then your immune system may be compromised."


It Takes More Than 10 Days to Recover from an Upper Respiratory Infection

Man lying on bed at home, high fever and coughing.

According to Dr. Hirt, "When you get an upper respiratory infection, most people with healthy immune systems can fully recover in ten days.  If your symptoms go on for most of the month, then there may be issues with the strength of your immune responsiveness."


Chronic Fatigue

woman laying on bed with a phone in her hand.

"There are many reasons to be tired," Dr. Hirt says. "Many people are surprised to learn that one of them is a weak immune system, or low white blood cell count. If you are experiencing unusual fatigue, make sure your healthcare provider includes a screening test for your immune system."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather