Top 5 Immune System Stressors

November 5, 2018 | Wellness Resources

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 Top 5 Immune System Stressors
As the days shorten and weather gets cooler, it's a good reminder to strengthen our immune systems! How well your immune system handles any type of threat depends on your health. The immune system’s energetic fitness thrives on plentiful antioxidant stores, properly managed inflammation, and self-care. Improving fundamental components of immune health, managing inflammation and restoring antioxidant status is vital to staying well all year long. Here are the top 5 immune system stressors.

1. Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a problem affecting nearly one out of two adults. Even minor sleep deprivation has harmful effects on immune system function and results in high amounts of inflammation. Researchers found that even one night of acute sleep deprivation in healthy young men caused significant impact on the immune system.

Limited sleep causes your immune defense soldiers (CD4, CD8, CD14, and CD16) and immunoglobulins (sIgA) to function less efficiently. Impairing these soldiers with just a few nights of sleep deprivation depresses your immune system’s function.

Take some steps to improve sleep, such as setting a regular bedtime, turning off electronics two hours before bedtime, not eating three hours before bedtime, and getting exercise in the morning.

2. Processed Foods & Alcohol

We know that the Standard American Diet is laden with high amounts of sugar, white flour, processed foods, poor quality fats, and nutrient poor foods. These foods disrupt the health of the gut flora, which is where up to 80% of the immune system lies. Consuming sugar depresses white blood cell activity by as much as 50% for several hours after consumption. Elevated blood sugars, even with a fasting blood sugar above 90, can also impair the immune system.

Nutrient poor foods, GMO foods, and consuming food allergens rob the body of energy. This increases inflammation, reduces antioxidant stores, and impairs the function of the gut microbiome – the armed forces of the immune system.

Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupts immune pathways and depress immune function. If you're feeling worn down, it's imporant to clean up your diet and avoid sugar and alcohol. Eat plenty of vegetables and high quality protein.

3. Stress & Immune Inflammation

Acute and chronic stress provokes immune inflammation and depletion. When exposed to stress, the stress response triggers neurotransmitters and hormones in our brain, pituitary, adrenal glands, and the brain-gut axis. These compounds modulate the intestinal immune system and affect compounds such as Secretory IgA.

Secretory IgA (sIgA) is a powerful primary immunoglobulin or mucosal antibody that determines if germs will adhere to our mucosal linings (eyes, sinuses, mouth, lungs, gut, vagina, urethra). Chronic stress, including sleep deprivation, disrupts sIgA. When sIgA is worn-out, germs adhere to the wall of the intestinal tract gaining a stronghold on the immune system. This creates higher levels of inflammation and the development or worsening of increased gut permeability, thereby affecting our entire body’s immune system energetics.

Set aside time each day to do a relaxing activity that you enjoy. Maybe it's a hobby, exercise, yoga, or meditation. Even if it's for a short time in the evening, it can help your relaxation reserves. Nutritionally, magnesium and b vitamins are important for stress tolerance and adrenal health.

4. Sedentary Lifestyles

Sedentary lifestyles oftentimes contribute to hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and increased waist circumference, which reflect inflammation in the body. Combine these factors with the sleep deprivation, low antioxidant status from poor quality foods, and high levels of stress hormones, and you have a combination of inflammation and immune susceptibility.

Considering the fact that our country is faced with obesity and metabolic syndrome epidemics, sleep problems at record highs, and stress levels through the roof leads to the risk of superbugs and viral or bacterial illness flourishing.

Follow the 5 Rules of The Leptin Diet to improve these metabolic factors and improve your health. Get regular exercise throughout the week, even if you need to start slowly. This can make a difference in many areas of health!

5. Low Antioxidant & Vitamin Stores

Antioxidants are the foundation for a healthy immune system. The higher your stress level, the more antioxidants you need on a daily basis. Vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E, and NAC are essential for building a strong antioxidant network.

Vitamin D and sunshine exposure provide core support for the immune system. Ideal lab values should be between 50-80 ng/mL.

Zinc is a mineral needed for healthy immune function. Zinc is considered the second messenger of immune cells, integral to immune cell communication and enzyme activities.

Fundamental to a healthy immune system is a combination of a diet rich in vegetables and protein, good digestive health, stress management, exercise, adequate sleep, and good hygiene practices. Excessive sugar intake, snacking between meals, junk food diets, excessive alcohol, and chemicals in food or water are among the most immune-disruptive factors. Now is the time to take steps to strengthen your immune system!

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