Your body is protected by an incredible, invisible mechanism - your immune system. Without even requiring us to consciously act on its behalf, our immune systems battle millions of microbes, bacteria, viruses, and toxins on a daily basis. It is a force so powerful we don’t have to notice it. In fact, the only times we do notice it, unfortunately, are when it breaks down. The most extreme example of this is a decaying body - no longer possessing a functioning immune system, a corpse rapidly decomposes, destroyed by all of the bacteria and other parasites that previously could not disrupt the body.

As powerful as our immune systems are, they need our help to perform at peak condition. Below are possible reasons why your immune system health may be at risk:

1. Aging - As we age, our immune systems experience changes in T cell subsets, cellular and molecular level alterations and thymic atrophy, resulting in a decline of T and B cell function. In simple terms, our bodies have difficulty determining what are our cells and what are foreign cells. This can lead to autoimmune diseases, weakening the overall system.

2. Stress - Your body produces certain chemicals during moments of stress (sometimes called “fight or flight” mode). While the release of these chemicals were designed to keep us sharp during moments of danger, prolonged periods of stress creates an imbalance of these hormones, which can weaken the immune system.

3. Caffeine -  Caffeine is a stimulant that can induce dehydration and cause depletion of key vitamins and minerals. Overuse of caffeine can also lead to other problems, such as headaches, insomnia, and anxiety (see above).

Maintaining a healthy immune system requires ample amount of sleep, proper exercise, and a diet filled with fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is one of the best immune system boosters there is, while immune system supplements such as cat’s claw or garlic extract can work wonders. Don’t wait until you have reason to notice your immune system at work.