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Facts About the Immune System: How Stress Can Affect It

Facing everyday germs and the potential for illness requires a robust immune system. When a new health crisis hits the scene, how will your immune system cope? The arrival COVID-19 is a test for even the healthiest individuals, and it comes with plenty of stress, too. 

We know probiotics can help boost your immune system. Did you know stress can weaken your body's ability to fight diseases? Stress can compromise your immune system—no matter how well you take care of yourself to stay healthy. Stress is at an all-time high right now from dealing with changes in your working conditions, home life, and the worry that doing the wrong thing could result in contracting the illness.

Yes, worrying about catching a virus can weaken your immune system and increase your susceptibility to contracting that virus or other illnesses! Sometimes information can help you cope with new stress. Keep reading to learn some facts about the immune system and how your stress levels can affect it. 

How Stress Affects Your Immune System

Whether you have the strongest of immune systems or you're immunocompromised, stress can negatively impact your body's ability to ward off diseases. 

If you're usually a calm person, a small increase in your stress level can have a significant impact. If you live your life in a constant state of stress, you could already have a weak immune system. Additional stress can have damaging effects. 

But Why?

Have you heard that too much of a good thing can be bad for you? Stress certainly isn't good for you, and it has a physiological impact on your body.

Stress induces the release of the hormone "cortisol." It helps your body manage that stress until it subsides. In small amounts or short bursts, cortisol can also boost your immune system for a limited amount of time.

Cortisol reduces inflammation, including your body's inflammatory response to an infection. If you've heard of or experienced cortisone injections, you know that your doctor uses this treatment to help inflammation in your body. With less inflammation, other therapies and medication can be more effective. Cortisol can also help reduce pain. 

When It's Too Much

Natural cortisol is helpful in small doses and controlled amounts administered by your doctor. However, when you experience prolonged stress and continual production of cortisol in your body, it's no longer effective. In some cases, too much cortisol can harm your immune system by causing it to weaken.  

How Stress Affects Your Mood

Too much stress can also affect your mood. Stress can lead to depression and anxiety. If you feel more anxious living day to day in an isolated environment—whether it's self-imposed or a result of quarantine restrictions—you're dealing with stress that could also contribute to depression.

Stress, anxiety, and depression can combine to become a powerful immune system suppressor. These mood and nervous system disorders can cause your body to produce fewer white blood cells. These cells are illness-fighters for your immune system. 

When your body produces fewer white blood cells, you lose your ability to fight off infections and illnesses. Dealing with a weakened immune system while struggling with anxiety, depression, and stress makes you an easier target for a disease to strike. 

How Stress Affects Your Digestive System

Your body's systems depend on each other! A weakness in one system can lead to the shut down of other systems. 

Your immune system needs the right vitamins and nutrients to stay strong. Have you noticed that when you experience intense stress, you're not as hungry as usual? Stress (and depression and anxiety) can suppress your appetite. It can also reduce your digestive system's ability to effectively process the nutrients your immune system needs to fight infections. 

How Stress Affects Your Circulation

Proper blood flow helps your immune system deliver white blood cells to where they need to be when fighting infection. Your circulation also helps your system flush out toxins and infections.

Too much stress also affects your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. When these things happen, your body's circulation becomes compromised. Poor circulation weakens your immune system. 

You Can Fight For Your Immune System

Reducing the stress in your life is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. What happens when the stress doesn't have anywhere to go? Changing how you handle stress can be as effective as eliminating the stressor itself. 

Your immune system depends on many other systems throughout your body. From circulation to digestion and your moods, you can adapt behaviours and help your body's systems work well on their own and together.

Try these tips to manage your stress and help boost your immunity. 

Breathe

Sometimes a deep breath (or ten) can help you reduce the immediate feelings of stress. Whether working from home is stressing you out, or you're nervous about your finances right now, taking time to breathe deeply slows your heart rate and helps improve your blood flow. 

Stretch

Long, slow stretches can help your muscles relax and put you in a posture that enables you to calm down. You don't have to do yoga, but breathing deeply while also stretching your legs, torso, neck, and arms, can reduce feelings of stress. 

Supplement

Even with the healthiest diet, your body can miss critical nutrients that can reduce stress and boost your immune system. Theanine, magnesium, and vitamin B6 help improve your mood and relax. You'll find a powerful combination of these nutrients in our MgOptima Relax. Incorporating this supplement into your diet can help support relaxation, reduce mild anxiety, and assist with healthy sleeping.

Knowing Facts About the Immune System Can Help Reduce Stress

We hope learning a few facts about the immune system helps reduce your stress! Good immune health is critical, and stress can be a significant factor in a weak immune system. 

Be sure to consult your doctor before adding stretches or supplements to your health routine. Contact us if you have questions about our products! 

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