The impact of stress on your immune system
Mild stimulation of daily activity and being productive is actually good minor stress for us- it “primes” us to be stronger and more able to adapt to the little bumps in the road that we all encounter in our daily life, whether those bumps be physical or mental. But, continued unremitting stress depresses our immune system measurably. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is an essential hormone in our bodies and is also known as the stress hormone. We are all designed us to produce cortisol when immediate action is needed–such as when our ancestors had to run from a woolly mammoth… But a shot of cortisol was meant as a turbocharger, a quick way of firing up the body’s engine for immediate action. It was never meant to be elevated 24/7 as with the ‘being addicted to being busy’ lifestyle common in today’s society. While cortisol is needed for every cell in the body, our over-stressed lifestyles produce far more of it than we need.
Here’s what cortisol does to immunity:
- It destroys immune cells, such as T-cells.
- It causes the T-cells to be released before they mature and so they aren’t effective.
- It shrinks the thymus gland (one of the essential immune system glands where leukocyte immune glands are stored).
There are five main sources of stressors in modern life:
- Biological: bacteria, viruses, yeast, mold, fungi
- Environmental: Noise, lack of sunlight, pollution
- Emotional: Anger, hostility, resentment, fear
- Social: Crowding, crime, prejudice
- Family: Divorce, separation, death, university
Because of the connection between stress and health, stress management should be a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Finding ways to switch off from routine and rest with pleasant activities like long walks, catch ups with friends, warm baths, time with animals and so on isn’t just about relaxation- it’s making an investment of your time for your health, by normalizing your levels of stress hormones, boosting your energy and your immune system.
To learn more on how to further improve your health, book a consultation with Dr Rachel Murphy (Osteopath, Clinical Nutritionist) at the Family Wellness Group in Surrey Hills.
Call 9898 0222 or book online.
Dr Rachel Murphy
In clinical practice, I continue to pursue passion for treating infants and children as well as pregnancy care, including pre and postnatal support. I have a strong belief that environment plays a crucial role in health and well being, and therefore treatment management must also include advice on exercise and nutrition, ergonomics, stretching, rehabilitation and lifestyle modification.
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