What Are the Causes of a Weak Immune System?

Unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase the risks of developing problems with the immune system.
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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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The causes of a weak immune system are many and include an accumulation of toxins, waste material, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, lack of exercise, and use of chemical substances such as drugs and alcohol. Internal factors such as chronic emotional stress, depression or lack of sleep can also inhibit the function of the immune system. A weak immune system is often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

The immune system is a network of cells and organs which have specialized to defend the body against attack. A healthy immune system is able to fight off infection from bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites because of its ability to distinguish between familiar and foreign cells. If a foreign substance, or antigen, threatens a healthy body, the immune system is able to recognize the threat and counteract it by producing defensive molecules and cells. A weak immune system, however, has no strength to ward off invaders and the body is vulnerable to diseases which range from allergies to cancer.

Toxins are normally produced in the body and eliminated through the kidneys, stomach, liver, small intestines and skin. When too many toxins are introduced into the body usually by ingestion or respiration, the elimination channels are unable to cope or they may have become too slow or sluggish to cope. When toxins accumulate, the immune system is suppressed and the body becomes acidic, thus creating an environment vulnerable to illness and disease.


Lack of nutrition is a major factor in the creation of a weak immune system as the body cannot produce all of the nutrients it needs for optimal health and relies on the intake of food to supply the nutrition it lacks. If a healthy diet is not followed, the immune system does not have all the tools it needs to maintain a strong defense. Similarly, excessive smoking and alcohol intake deprive the body of immune-boosting nutrients by producing nutritional deficiency. Too much alcohol also suppresses the ability of white blood cells to multiply and inhibit their germ-killing properties.

Water is essential for the optimal performance of the immune system and dehydration impairs the elimination of waste from the body. Without water, the body becomes fatigued and less able to fight off disease. Exercise is also essential in the cleansing action of the body as an increase in blood flow associated with activity results in a better circulation of the antibodies and white blood cells necessary for defense against germs and viruses. Too much exercise can be as damaging as too little, however. Obesity also negatively affects the multiplication of white blood cells and production of antibodies.


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