To say this year has been stressful would, for most of us, be an understatement. While many see the positive, thriving, and are thankful for the forced slow down, the uncertainty we are all facing as a community can be overwhelming.
Specifically, the number of actively diagnosed COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) cases are increasing in the Denver area, which is a real concern for us and our patients. In addition to doing the typical suggestions of wearing a mask, washing our hands, and maintaining social distance — also having a strong immune system can significantly help mitigate our risk of developing a life-threatening infection. Having an overall strong immune system helps to protect the contraction of COVID-19. Unfortunately, patients with a weakened immune system face a higher risk of severe acute and possible long term complications.
Obviously, COVID-19 is now recognized as a new virus for which most of us have poor to no existing antibodies to help fight this specific infection. Many factors can negatively impact your immune system, including past or chronic illness, and having overall marginal wellness. Strengthening your immune system gives your body the time it needs to figure out what it is fighting and what will work to “fight” this potentially deadly viral infection. AgeWellMD in Denver offers IV Therapy, which statistically can boost your immune system. But did you know the stress and what you eat can also be mitigating factors enhancing the development of a severe COVID19 infection? We have all experienced stress, and we know stress can present in ways we can feel, and in some ways, we cannot. So how exactly does stress relate to your immune system and COVID-19?
A normal stress response is meant to provide protection in situations where you may be facing harm. A combination of reactions to stress is also known as the “fight-or-flight” response because it evolved as a human survival mechanism, thus enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening psychological and/or physical situations. In these conditions, your hypothalamus (brain)alerts your adrenal glands, which in turn releases a surge of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can cause responses like an increased heart rate, increased glucose to your brain, and therefore increased energy. Cortisol is also responsible for slowing down nonessential responses in a “fight-or-flight” response. This impacts your immune system, digestive system, and growth system, to name a few. Weight gain is a very common occurrence when under “stress.” These responses are good things when we need them; however, the concern is we can experience these same responses when we get a harsh email, look at bills that need to be paid, or need to coexist with children while attempting to work from home. When dealing with a particularly stressful time in life, our response can be kicked into overdrive, thereby wreaking havoc on your hormones and immune system.
Common symptoms of mental and physical exhaustion (stress) will include combinations of weight gain, sleep cycle disturbances, increased irritability, depression, hormone imbalances, blood sugar fluctuations, low mood, poor concentration, achy joints and muscles, and feeling unusually tired. These are symptoms of thyroid, insulin, and cortisol imbalances. Yes, sex hormones also play an important role in mitigating stress!
Because stress can greatly compromise our immune system and because it is so difficult to avoid stress today, it is essential we take whatever steps we can to get our system back into balance. Some things you can do at home without the help of Dr. Engsberg are to be physically active, meditate, or even reach out to friends and loved ones over the phone or via video chat. Additionally, eating a well-balanced diet and taking supplements recommended and prescribed by Dr. Engsberg can be quite helpful.
COVID-19 is a serious illness that should not be taken lightly. Here are a few tips which help us stay healthy. It is imperative for you to especially stay healthy during this period of change within our society. Please remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, remain socially distant, and do what you can now to strengthen your immune system and relieve the stress that may be causing imbalances. Overall, either continue the process of becoming truly healthy or begin the journey towards optimizing your overall wellness. Simply being “within range” is like coming into 5th place at the Kentucky Derby!! I want you to optimize your wellness and then live your life in 1st Place in order to experience a full and productive existence!!!