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Keep Getting Sick? Could Stress Be Compromising Your Immune System?

Phoebe Liebling
Phoebe Liebling
September 22, 2023
3
min read
Keep Getting Sick? Could Stress Be Compromising Your Immune System?

Does your energy crash when you relax?

Do you feel like you're getting ill when you take a break?

If you don't exercise do you feel exhausted versus being OK if you do?

Do you crave salt/sugar in the afternoons?

If any or all of these apply what you are seeing is a down regulating of your immune system, a perturbation of your blood sugar response, and an increased requirement for certain nutrients needed to make and remove stress hormones. Which when you add them together makes you the perfect candidate to pick up every sniffle that’s going around.

Our bodies are great at maintaining daily function, however this state of homeostasis (internal equilibrium) comes at a cost if there is no rest and reboot time.

In the absence of a proper break we turn to our stress hormones to keep going, and it's the presence of these that then have an impact on immune function (as well as other things like digestive function).

Imagine your system as an elastic band - if relaxed you've got plenty of bend and wave to absorb impact, but if pulled taught any kind of missile is going to hit hard then ricochet off.

To summarise - a stressed body will always be a body less tolerant to strain.

We see this as increased inflammation (e.g. muscle soreness, pain), ineffective immune responses ("I catch everything going around"), more frequent illness, and the development of weak points ("I always get chest infections" for example).

 

How Do We Fix This?

1. Firstly your body is telling you to take your foot off the gas.

  • Decrease intense cardio exercise.
    • Swap to steady state walking with weights, resistance training, swimming and cycling over running and HIIT.
  • Make time to wind your body down on a daily basis.
    • Add in breathing exercises (inhale for 2, hold for 4, exhale for 7), technology detox time (especially in the evening), meditation, yoga and stretching.
  • Avoid stimulants first thing. Have these after food but before 1pm.
2. It's also asking you for nutrients.
  • Our Immune Rescue plan contains all the targeted elements to rebuild your immune resilience, add this in.
  • Sodium is then required for adrenaline production, and electrolytes are depleted by stress. Include these too.
3. Stabilise your system, make it feel secure.
  • Ensuring your blood sugar is balanced will remove cravings and prevent your adrenal system being triggered further by peaks and troughs.
  • Look at your macronutrient proportions per meal - are you getting enough protein, fat and fibre?
    • Aim for 1 palm sized serving of protein, 2 tablespoons of fat, and 2 cupped handfuls of colourful vegetables.
  • Try having your carbohydrates at the end of a meal after the other elements too.
4. And finally - properly invest in rest!
  • It seems obvious but this requires attention and training. We don't just naturally sleep perfectly the moment we jump into bed if we've been racing around all day, on our phones etc.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary, avoid technology and electronic devices for 2 hours before sleep, and get into bed so you have at least 45 minutes to read/unwind before turning out the lights.
  • Our body temperature needs to drop by 1-3 degrees to get us into a proper sleep cycle so open a window before you get into bed, either keeping it open overnight if you can, or pulling it shut just before you go to sleep if this is unavoidable. 
Phoebe Liebling
Phoebe Liebling
September 22, 2023
3
min read