Stress is something everyone has to deal with, sometimes on a daily basis. Even happy occasions, like the holidays, have an element of stress associated with them. All the preparation and planning that goes into an event like a holiday can create low-level stress you might not even be aware of. Stress can make you feel anxious and jittery but it can have other effects on your body. Stress can even affect your immune system and reduce its ability to protect you against illness.
A study in the 1980s involving medical students, a group under a lot of academic stress, showed the students experienced changes in immune function when exam time rolled around. Specifically, they produced fewer T-cells and natural killer cells, immune cells that protect against infection and abnormal cells that could lead to cancer. These changes may partially explain why people who are “stressed out” suffer more frequently with colds and other viral illnesses. A number of studies over the years have shown that psychological stress increases the risk for upper respiratory infections. Stress can even reduce the body’s immune response to a vaccine and, potentially, make the vaccine less effective.
How Does Stress Alter Immune Activity?
It’s long been known that stress can diminish immune activity but it’s still not clear exactly why. One theory is hormones released in response to stress affect chemicals called cytokines that help regulate the activity of the immune system. Cytokines are chemical signals released by immune cells that help cells within the immune network communicate with each other. Cytokines have a variety of capabilities. They can increase the production of immune cells when they’re needed, attract immune cells to an area to help fight off a foreign invader, or turn immune cells off when they’re not needed. When too much or too few cytokines or the wrong kind of cytokine is released, it can throw the immune system off balance.
Normally, cytokines are highly regulated and this helps keep the immune system healthy and balanced. Stress, and the hormonal response to stress, may alter this self-regulatory ability. Think of cytokines as the chemical messengers that regulate and control the immune response. Anything that upsets this delicate balance can decrease the immune system’s ability to defend against invaders or, at the other end, lead to inflammation. As research suggests, inflammation is a risk factor for a number of health problems.
The immune response to short-term stress and chronic stress are different. Very short-term stress that happens over a matter of minutes, like seeing a tiger running towards you, temporarily ramps up immune activity, just as it activates your “flight of fight” response so you can escape the tiger. It’s when stress is ongoing that immune function suffers.
It’s not just psychological stress that can interfere with normal function of the immune system and put you at risk for colds and other health problems – physical stress, like eating a poor diet and not sleeping enough, can too. Plus, immune function declines with age and when you have certain illnesses. Most people don’t lead a very immune-friendly lifestyle and are at risk for health problems as a result.
The Bottom Line
Stress is a given in most people’s lives and one you don’t always have control over. It also affects immune function. To compensate, make sure you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet, getting enough sleep, exercising moderately and taking immune supplements when appropriate. There is one all natural, bio-identical, immune boosting supplement that you should be taking as part of your daily supplementation. Because the stress you are under is not your fault, this supplement called BioPro-Plus™, will help to correct any immune deficiency you may be suffering from. So don’t wait, CLICK HERE, to get your BioPro-Plus™ today!
-Alternative Health Concepts
American Psychological Association. “Stress Weakens the Immune System” February 23, 2006.
Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 199S: 152: 553-S58.
Ohio State University. “Stress May Increase Susceptibility to Infectious Disease”
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “Cytokines”