Since Autumn is the time when all the kids are back in school sharing germs, and people are coming down with viruses more often, I thought it might be good to talk about All Things Immune. And you can’t talk about immunity without talking about adrenal health and stress.
I’ve been learning a lot about adrenal health lately. Your adrenals are the moderators of your mucosal (mucosal = having to do with mucous) immunity via a molecule called Secretory IgA, or sIgA (say: “sig-A”). Your mucosal immunity is basically the frontline of your immune system. Sig-A molecules cover your body anywhere there is a mucosal lining, including the digestive tract, mouth, nose, ears, and vaginal tissues. I’ll list a bunch of links where you can read about this more in-depth, but I’m giving you the gist.
The trouble is, stress depletes your adrenal function, especially long-term chronic stress. And when your adrenal function is tapped out, your mucosal immunity follows, making you more susceptible to cold and flus, and GI-tract bugs like Candida overgrowth and Klebsiella and other pathological baddies. So, if you support your adrenals by lowering stress and nourishing the body, you then support the immune system.
If you want to check on your adrenal function, or suspect yourself of having adrenal fatigue, you can have your Naturopathic or Functional Medicine doctor order a salivary cortisol test that includes salivary Sig-A. I recommend doing this if you’ve had prolonged stress or other symptoms of adrenal insufficiency including insomnia, low sex drive, mood issues, prolonged fatigue, chronic infections, and/or weight gain. You can also take Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue quiz.
Incidentally, a bad diet takes its toll on your adrenal health and your immune health. The various aspects of the endocrine system – including the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas (where insulin comes from), and gonads (ovaries and testes) – are intricately involved with one another. When one gets out of whack it can have farther-reaching effects in the body. So if you’re eating a highly insulinogenic diet, that is, a diet that routinely raises your blood glucose levels to inappropriate levels, you are stressing your adrenals and your immune system.
Some ways to support your adrenal health, and therefore support your immune health:
Relaxation: meditation, yoga, sufficient rest and play
Proper sleep: 7-9 hrs a night
Avoid refined carbs: sugars and grains, especially gluten-containing grains
Nourishing diet: vegetables; grass-fed meats; nuts and seeds; mineral-rich broths; healthy fats like coconut, ghee, and avocado; limited fruits; cultured grass-fed dairy.
Hydration: clean, purified water free of chlorine, fluoride, metals. Avoid beverages containing sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and toxic artificial sweeteners.
Exercise: regular exercise. High Intensity Interval Training (HiiT, aka Burst Training) in particular has a lot of science to back it as one of the most beneficial exercise regimens for health and longevity.
ESSENTIAL OILS: diffuse stress-reducing oils. Many, many of our Young Living oils have been proven to help lower stress and increase adaptation to stress.
Try diffusing tree oils like cypress or balsam, which I wrote about in a previous post; or lavender, orange, Stress Away blend, Peace and Calming blend, ylang ylang, or Valor II for stress.
If you do end up with an issue that plagues your immune system, we love Thieves blend. We are never without it. We also use Tea Tree, Melrose, Oregano, Frankincense, Lemon, and ImmuPower, among others, to support immune health. Diffuse, apply topically, or take a few drops with a little coconut oil or honey on a spoon as needed.