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Are you stressing out your immune system?

Did you make it through winter unscathed, or like me did you catch one of the many colds that was doing the rounds?

I think I’m pretty health – I eat well, get plenty of rest and normally feel vibrant and full of energy. So why did I catch it?

Well there’s lots of factors including the obvious ones such as being in closer proximity to more people because we tend to be inside more in winter, and some viruses replicate more easily in cooler weather. But there’s another reason which affected me more than either of these two and was probably the clincher and that’s my stress levels.

STRESS is a word thrown around a lot isn’t it. Are you STRESSED? I feel so STRESSED…. What does it mean? Well anything that disturbs our body’s normal function is called a stressor and that includes physical and mental disturbances. Our bodies are designed to withstand short bursts of stress and have mechanisms in place to deal with it, however long-term stress is another story.

These mechanisms involve your nervous system sending messages which increase the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, and this is what disturbs normal body function with increased blood sugar levels, heart rate and blood pressure. The long-term effect of ongoing release of cortisol is lowered immunity and this means an increased susceptibility to any bugs that are in circulation.

Cortisol is released when your body perceives any stress and it doesn’t differentiate between physical or mental stress. Pardon the pun, but I’m going to stress that your body views STRESS as any disturbance to its normal function and so things like food intolerances, chronic inflammation and other allergies will cause increased cortisol release.

When it comes to mental stress it can be hard to avoid it altogether, but you can put things in place which help you to cope with it and reduce the impact of it on your nervous system.

So, what’s the take home message about STRESS and your IMMUNE SYSTEM?

· They are intricately linked and when one is out of balance it will affect the other

· During winter might be a good time to assess the current stressors in your diet and lifestyle and put a plan in place to manage them as this will reduce your susceptibility to infections.

· Learn some techniques to manage the stress in your life

A naturopath can help assess your current diet and lifestyle and help you to make positive changes to improve these areas. There are also many beneficial nutritional supplements as well as herbs that can support both your immune system and your nervous system. If you would like to discuss this further, please call Larissa Jane Naturopathy to discuss a personalised treatment plan.

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