Is stress messing with your immune system? If you are under chronic stress, then it most certainly is. Stress is one of the factors that can have a very negative impact on your immune system which leaves you vulnerable to disease. Your immune system reacts to stress hormones, but once the stress passes the immune system backs off. The problem with this is that chronic stress increases your level of cortisol and cortisol reduces the amount of prostaglandins your body produces. Prostaglandins are supposed to support immune function, but when their production is slowed down the opposite happens and they contribute to inflammation and a suppressed immune system. In a scenario such as this, prostaglandins, lipids in the body that among other things regulate inflammation, have been shown to contribute to migraines, cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Chronic stress can lead to reduced performance by macrophages, reduction of natural killer cells and slow down killer T cells which all negatively affect the performance of you immune system.
There is no one solution to dealing with stress. What works for one person may not work for another. It is important for your immune system and overall health to find what works for you in relieving stress. Try a variety of stress reducing remedies to see what works for you. Whether it’s some type of physical activity like exercise or jogging, starting a new hobby, meditation, massage or whatever, just find what helps you wind down and relax. In the meantime, if stress is messing with your immune system, here are some ways you can fight back.
According to Marc Schoen, PhD, an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, when you are coming from a stressful state don’t go straight into full relaxation state. Instead slide gradually into it. He recommends 5 to 6 times a day doing short exercise periods, playing games or word puzzles and going into what he calls “slow relaxation” mode for a couple of days before hitting full relaxation mode (http://ow.ly/q8asL).
Studies have shown that if you have lots of connections with other people, you are less anxious and your immune system is stronger. That means take the time to stay in touch with friends and attend social functions. If you find yourself in a situation without friends or family to engage with regularly, join a hobby club, sports team or volunteer at a non-profit. Find ways to get yourself out of the house and interacting with others.
Eat Your Stress Away
Don’t take this to mean sit down and eat a gallon of ice cream when you are stressed. That’s not at all what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about eating foods that have stress relieving vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, B vitamins, coenzyme Q10 and chlorophyll. These type of foods are stress relievers, but when you are under stress, your body uses them up more quickly. So just at the time you need them the most, you don’t have enough of them. Making sure in times of stress to eat foods such as oysters, halibut, spinach and other leafy greens, nuts and seeds and bluegreen algae will help in relieving stress and giving a boost to your immune system.
Our bodies also need more proteins when we are under stress. Be sure to get the “good proteins” though, as in the type from whole grains, soy, sprouts and bluegreen algae. Good proteins support your body’s ability to handle stress, both physically and mentally. If you can’t get all the extra protein you need from your food, consider taking this supplement with bluegreen algae and sprouts. Another great supplement to add to your diet is this one with nine different algae rich in minerals and phytonutrients, combined for full-spectrum nutrition.
Stay Physically Fit
Nothing makes you feel stress more than various aches, pains, and chronic health conditions. To avoid aggravating these conditions, take antioxidants. These “scavengers” literally go around your body cleaning up the toxins and substances that make your aches and pains worse during stress. Eating bright colorful fruits and vegetables will add antioxidants into your diet or you can take antioxidant-rich supplements such as sprouts, coenzyme Q10, and vitamin C.
Exercise is also important in staying healthy and for some people can work as a stress reliever. Whether it’s going for a bike ride, working out at the gym, or taking a leisurely walk in the park, being active and moving your body can help reduce stress helping to strengthen your immune system.
Sleep It Off
Not getting enough sleep can lead to your body being stressed and a reduction of your immune system’s killer cells. One study done at the University of Chicago reported men getting only 4 hours of sleep a night for a week showed only half the number of antibodies in the blood for fighting off flu as compared to men who got 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours of sleep.
The quality of sleep is also important. Good quality sleep requires entering the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep If you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep eat a healthy light snack before bed and avoid heavy meals right before bedtime, develop a bedtime routine to train your body for sleep time and start getting it ready for bed, avoid doing other activities such as work or watching TV in bed, and make sure any exercise you do is at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Using these tips to reduce stress can help support your immune system function and get you in good condition for cold and flu season. Chronic stress can wreak all kinds of havoc on your body so get started now finding what works for you to get your stress under control.
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