How stress affects the immune system and how to beat it

One of the best ways to help boost your immune system is to ensure that you avoid as many stressful situations as possible, which may not always be easy.
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One of the best ways to help boost your immune system is to ensure that you avoid as many stressful situations as possible, which may not always be easy.

For a lot of us, stress is just a part of life. You may feel under the pump at work, had a long day with your kids or gone through a traumatic experience. But prolonged stress can take a massive toll on your immune system.

What exactly is stress?

Any emotion is a response to an event. There is a psychological and physical response to stress as the brain releases hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, noradrenaline and cortisol.

With these coursing through your brain and body, you’re physiologically ready to fight or take flight. Your blood pressure is raised, your heart rate is up and being in this state of frequent elevation is not healthy.

Often, we find that we begin to feel run down if there are too many stressors in our life. 

Cortisol can wreak havoc on your sleep and also decrease your body’s lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that help fight off infections. The lower these levels are, the more at risk you are for catching viruses and colds.

Stress may also be caused by depression, grief or anxiety and can cause your immune system to become over-tired, stopping it from properly protecting you.

Tips on how to manage stress

1. Try to unwind

Stress puts a lot of toll on the body, and it weakens your ability to fight off infections. Try to unwind as much as possible when you can. Even if it’s just a few moments in the bath while your partner watches the kids.

You can find the Mind.Body.Breath sessions on 28 Day Weight Loss ChallengeThese meditation sessions are a great way to help calm the mind and support your overall wellness.

2. Go to bed early

It’s essential you try and get as much sleep as possible if you are feeling stressed.

Sleep drops the body’s cortisol to healthy levels, and when you don’t get enough shut-eye, your body continues to produce more. However, it may not be easy to sleep if you are feeling stressed.

You could always try going to bed earlier than usual to get some extra hours in or if it’s taking you longer to fall asleep.

5. Exercise

Exercise is fantastic for your overall health but working out also has some amazing stress-busting benefits.

Whether it’s power walking up the stairs, doing yoga or going for a run helps pump up your endorphins and your brain release feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Exercise may also help you sleep better at night and lower your cortisol levels.

If you are looking for some easy and affordable exercise plans then join our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. There are HEAPS of simple exercise you can do from home!

4. Eat well

Eating well can significantly reduce anxiety and stress levels. Researchers at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health studied 60,000 Australians, who were aged 45 and over, to see whether there was a link between diet and stress.

They found people who eat between five and seven daily servings of fruit and vegetables saw a 23 per cent lower risk of stress than those having just one serving.

Find out how to get 5 Serves Of Vegetable Into Your Diet Each Day.

Our Low Fat Beef Chow Mein (pictured above) is jam-packed with veg, click here for the Low Fat Beef Chow Mein recipe.

If you want to get more fruit and veg into your diet, The Healthy Mummy has a HEAP of healthy recipes loaded with nutrients from fruit and veg, click here for more recipes.

7 ways to boost your family’s immune system:

1. Eat a healthy diet

This includes lots of fruits and vegetables. For more inspiration, check out 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge recipe app for a host of yummy, healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

2. Get adequate sleep

This is a hard one if you have a young family! One top tip may be to go to bed when you put your kids to bed a few nights a week, to make sure you are getting enough rest and staying healthy.

3. Live a healthy lifestyle

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Exercise as much as possible. It’s important for you to stay active with the kids to stay healthy. You could also try doing the exercises from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Here are 12 exercises to do from home

4. Keep up hygiene

Make sure you wash your hands regularly and keep your household clean to stop germs from spreading.

5. Manage stress

MINDBODYBREATH audio player

Stress puts a lot of toll on the body and it weakens your ability to fight off infections. Try to unwind as much as possible when you can. Even if it’s just a few moments in the bath while your partner watches the kids.

You can find the Mind.Body.Breath sessions on 28 Day Weight Loss ChallengeThese meditation sessions are a great way to help calm the mind and support your overall wellness.

6. Get out in the sun

Vitamin D has been shown to help boost your immune system and overall health. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, though!

7. Increase our zinc intake

Zinc is a mineral that helps strengthen our immune system. Foods that contain zinc include meat, shellfish, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs and whole grains.

6 immunity-boosting smoothies to try

And here are one of our Nutritionists 5 tips for boosting your immune system

Cheree Sheldon - Author

  1. Stop eating refined sugar. Sugar slows down the immune system. A study in 2008 showed that A sugar-rich diet may prime the innate immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation. Dr Ben Lynch says that eating sugar essentially stops the immune system from doing its job for 6 hours! When you need to boost immunity look at using natural sugars in moderation or use herb-based sweeteners like thuamatin and stevia.
  2. Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that the body uses in greater amounts when defending against visuses or stress. Include plenty of citrus, capsicum, and berries in your day, and think about supplementing with vitamin C when in defence mode.
  3. Consume foods that contain zinc. Another nutrient needed in higher amounts for immunity. Zinc is highly available in seafood like oysters, red meat, and seeds like pumpkin seeds.
  4. Utilise herbs. Go nuts with warming herbs in your cooking to help your body raise its resting metabolic rate. Think about cinnamon on porridge, turmeric in curries, pepper, chilli, ginger and cloves. PLUS, these herbs tend to be anti-inflammatory and antibacterial! Herbs in teas and tonics make a massive difference to immunity as well. Echinaecea, elder, and ginseng are great for preventative medicine and during infections.
  5. Feed your gut to support the happy bugs. The majority of your bodies immune system actually lives in your gut! Feeding the good bacteria ensures that they activate the immune system when needed. Use prebiotic foods like apples, and artichokes, and foods high in fibre. Eat fermented foods to keep the bacteria life flourishing. And use superfoods like medicinal mushrooms to support immune function better!

What else can I do to boost my zinc levels and help my immunity?

The Healthy Mummy Smoothie is packed with a potent combination of 24 vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fibre and healthy fats, providing a nutrient hit for busy mums.

One serve (or shake rather) of The Healthy Mummy Smoothie mix contains 25 per cent of the recommended dietary intake of zinc. Along with 25 per cent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.

For more information on our Smoothies download our Smoothie factsheet. If you are looking for some EASY, TASTY and HEALTHY smoothie recipes then grab a FREE copy of our Healthy Mummy Smoothie Recipe pack here

 

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