How the immune system and emotions influence each other explains nutritionist Pooja Banga

Ever wondered why your body acts weirdly when you are stressed? Here’s what Nutritionist Pooja Banga has to say.
How the immune system and emotions influence each other explains nutritionist Pooja Banga
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"Change in moods and emotions are part of life. I always tell people dealing with your emotional and spiritual health is just as important as your physical health. They contend with the body and the mind." says Pooja Banga, director & Nutritionist at Cultivating Health

Whether it's hard breakups, moving days, orgasm weeks at the office, for most of us, stress is just a part of life. The chronic stress can negatively affect your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection and disease.

If you ever got sick after a stressful event, it wasn't just a coincidence. Your brain and immune system are constant communication with one another, which means that the psychological upsets can result in physical symptoms.

While stress alone cannot make you catch cold flu or virus,  it can affect your immune system in two ways.

First by creating chronic inflammation that harms tissues and second by suppressing immune cells needed to fight infection. The chemical reactions caused by stressful conditions result in an onslaught of stress hormones that is being pumped around the body. While these hormones are useful in acute situations, their ability to interfere with the immune system can result in inflammation,  reduced white blood cell count, and higher susceptibility to infection and tissue damage.

Prolonged exposure to this stress causes high levels of the stress hormone which is known as cortisol. Normally,  cortisol is necessary to reduce inflammation in the body. This is a good thing but not for the long term.

Over long periods of time, the efforts of the body to decrease inflammation results in suppressing the immune system.

Chronic stress causes a rise in cortisol levels but over time it becomes quite less effective in handling inflammation. Immune cells become insensitive to cortisol that allows the immune system to become deregulated and enable runaway inflammation. This unabated inflammation weakens the body's defences, increasing susceptibility to flu, cold, chronic disease and even food allergies. Chronic stress can reduce our immune system's ability to fight off antigens, the harmful invaders that can make us ill. When you are stressed, that is, in fight or flight mode, the cortisol your body produces also works to prepare your body to run away from the threat it thinks you are facing.

To do this,  it suppresses the immune system to kissing amounts of protein required for signalling other immune cells. This results in a reduced amount of immune cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes work to reorganize and respond to harmful invaders and kill off antigens that can cause disease. With fewer lymphocytes, the body is at increased risk of infection and disease. Ultimately, the immune system is weakened which results in not only increased infections but also health issues like headaches, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and gastric ulcers also. So, make sure to give time to allow yourself to wind down from stressful situations. Over time,  those stressed can build up, and that chronic stress can wreak havoc on our immune system and potentially make your situation a lot worse! So, try to avoid staying and be happy.

You can control and reduce your stress by meditation, watching favourite movies, talking to someone, writing journals etc.

It's ok to have a bad mood but don't let it control your mind for long!

Also Read: What is PMSing? Follow these simple rules shared by Dr Kiran to overcome the symptoms