We know there is a lot of stress in our world right, many people are aware of a constant threat surrounding us with measures of self-isolation still in action.
Stress can be physical, chemical or emotional. The brain does not distinguish between stress. For example a scary Kangaroo chasing you, or stress as a relationship or financial strain has a similar physiological response. All stressors enact the body’s survival mechanism (firing up the sympathetic nervous system which handles our fight or flight response and implicating the HPA axis).
There is research that shows long-term activation of the HPA axis (part of the Sympathetic Nervous Systems response to stress) leads to increased inflammation (1). Chronic or long-term stress can suppress immunity by decreasing immune cell numbers and function and/or increasing active immunosuppressive mechanisms (e.g. regulatory T cells and increasing inflammatory type cytokines) (2, 3).
Stress-induced immune dysregulation has been shown to be significant enough to result in health consequences, including reducing the immune response, slowing wound healing, reactivating latent herpesviruses, such as Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), and enhancing the risk for more severe infectious disease (3).
There are several things out there that have been shown in good research that will help build your immune system. Washing your hands will help destroy microbes, eating good healthy fruit and vegetables, eating a good diet will help ensure you have a good healthy microbiome which is essential for a good immune system (4). Getting a good amount and quality of sleep (5) and moderate exercise eg a short walk around the block (6). Getting a good amount of sun for Vitamin D is also important for proper body function. Stress reduction is especially important to reduce immune issue, eg if you are feeling anxious or have anxiety reach out to people for help.
Practice gratefulness for all the good things in your life and make time, however short for some simple meditation. There are a lot of good apps for this now.
Check out some simple and free exercises on our web site for some simple spinal movement exercises. If you would like a measure of your stress – HRV is available in our practice. HRV is a test we can run with our computer system and in recent scientific studies has been shown as a potential marker of stress and health (7).
(1) Chrousos. G. P., (2000), “Stress, chronic inflammation, and emotional and physical well-being: Concurrent effects and chronic sequelae”, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 106(5): S275-S291, https://doi.org/10.1067/mai.2000.110163
(2) Dhabhar, F.S., 2009. Enhancing versus suppressive effects of stress on immune function: implications for immunoprotection and immunopathology. Neuroimmunomodulation, 16(5), pp.300-317.
(3) Godbout, J.P. and Glaser, R., 2006. Stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing, infectious disease and cancer. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 1(4), pp.421-427.
(4) Goldsmith, J.R. and Sartor, R.B., 2014. The role of diet on intestinal microbiota metabolism: downstream impacts on host immune function and health, and therapeutic implications. Journal of gastroenterology, 49(5), pp.785-798.
(5) Zaharna, M. and Guilleminault, C., 2010. Sleep, noise and health. Noise and Health, 12(47), p.64.
(6) Gerber, M. and Pühse, U., 2009. Do exercise and fitness protect against stress-induced health complaints? A review of the literature. Scandinavian journal of public health, 37(8), pp.801-819.
(7) Thayer, J.F., Åhs, F., Fredrikson, M., Sollers III, J.J. and Wager, T.D., 2012. A meta-analysis of heart rate variability and neuroimaging studies: implications for heart rate variability as a marker of stress and health. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 36(2), pp.747-756.
The Drs and Staff of Little Sprouts Chiropractic