Stress & Immunity: How To Lower Stress & Support Your Immune System

Chronic stress in a time of a global pandemic can lead to increased cortisol hormone levels. Get your hormones back in balance with these stress info and control tips.  Debra Durst MD

Read more about stress and its effects, and the treatments you can do to support your Adrenal Gland and Adrenal Fatigue. 

Stress can have significant adverse impacts on the body.  

Stress can be multifactorial. 

  • Mental / Emotional
  • Fear
  • Lack of sleep 
  • Overtraining
  • Environmental toxins

Stress is a flight and flight response. An animal comes at us. It results in Cortisol release. We go into Fight and flight mode. We get an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Fight or Flight is meant to be a short term. But long term it may have many negative effects on the body. 

Cortisol is our stress hormone. It is released from the adrenal gland. If we are stressed, we release Cortisol. This is what happens in the body when Cortisol is high:

  • Blood pressure goes up
  • Blood sugar elevates
  • Insulin elevates = We do not burn fat!
  • We breakdown muscle 
  • We breakdown bone
  • Inflammation in the brain = Brain Fog.
  • Our immune system does not function well to fight infections
  • Hormone production goes down
  • Thyroid function goes down
  • Sleep is poor
  • Less human Growth Hormone (HGH) production

When we have sustained over production of Cortisol, we develop diseases. Cortisol is a catabolic or breakdown hormone.  It results in these diseases:

  • Bone loss, frailty and fractures
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Metabolic syndrome = Met S central obesity
  • Decline in brain function and memory loss
  • Depression / Anxiety / PTSD
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Immune dysfunction and infections
  • Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
  • Cancers

Cortisol is the stress hormone released from the adrenal gland. This is a hormone we follow in our patients that are having their Hormones optimized with RevitalyzeMD(RMD). We do point testing and will elaborate further if our patients are exhibiting signs of stress and adrenal issues. 

This curve above shows a normal Cortisol pattern throughout a 24 hour period.  Starting at 6am on the left.  We release Cortisol in the early part of the day. We restore Cortisol at night that allows for repair at night.  We love educating our patients on how lifestyle changes can help support a healthy Cortisol curve. 

Stress Effects of Cortisol on the brain. 

The brain initiates the stimulation of Cortisol release by the Adrenal gland. This is called the HPA ( Hypothalamus / Pituitary / Adrenal ) axis. 

The Limbic system controls the hypothalamus. The limbic system is made of the Amygdala and the Hippocampus. 

The Amygdala stimulates the hypothalamus. 

The Hippocampus is the chill area that calms the hypothalamus. 

Chronic stress has a destroying effect on the hippocampus so that it can not inhibit the hypothalamus from stimulating the HPA axis to release Cortisol. Chronic stress is caused by fear and anger. Your adrenal gland can get burned out after prolonged overproduction of Cortisol. This is often referred to as Adrenal Fatigue. This leads to adrenal dysfunction and all the diseases that come from prolonged Cortisol excess. This is exactly what we do not want during a Pandemic as it leads to immune dysfunction and higher risk of infection. 

Brain protective factors.

  • BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor)

Helps repair areas of the brain. Our body is amazing and we have neuroplasticity that can help us rebuild or create new pathways in our brain. Today is a new day and we can start rebuilding. Factors that increase BDNF and brain repair are the same actions that support your stress and adrenal gland (below). 

  • Most important of are : Sleep, Exercise, Magnesium, Adaptogens
  • Add: Melatonin and Vitamin D
  • HSP (Heat Shock Proteins)

Prevent oxidative stress in cells and help with repair. 

Stress Management and Adrenal Support (Adrenal Fatigue) Treatments

Make time for balance and stress control. Disease treatment takes much more time and money. Prevent, Prevent, Prevent!!

  • Maintain a healthy diet
    • Limit sugars
    • Healthy Fats and proteins
    • Eat in the morning but avoid carbohydrates
    • Avoid eating at night after 8pm
  • Exercise
    • Minimum of 30min 5X/ week
  • Yoga
  • Meditate
    • You will increase your BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor) 
      • BDNF repairs brain inflammation
  • Avoid worry and fear 
    • Worry and fear. 
    • These have significant adverse effects on the brain
  • The list goes on but does require further evaluation of the adrenals by the providers at RMD. Not recommended without medical supervision but may include:
    • Kava
    • Adrenal glandulars
    • A course of steroids

We can do advanced testing of adrenal function at RMD. Adrenal Fatigue is a real issue and we always keep it in mind when optimizing our hormone patients. We are comprehensive in our treatment plans to get you looking, feeling and functioning your best! 

Fear will not change future events. Do not live in fear. Focus away from fear and onto something positive over which you have control! Focus on what you can do during this pandemic to make your body strong, healthy and vibrant!!

To your best self,

Debra Durst MD

RevitalyzeMD