Nutritionist Explains How Stress Affects Immunity And What You Can Do About It
Stress and immunity: In one of her recent IGTVs, nutritionist Nmami Agarwal explains how being stressed can take a toll on your immunity and reduce your body's ability to effectively fight infections.
Being chronically stressed can result in weight gain as well
- Regular exercise can prevent feeling of tiredness and fatigue
- It is also an effective stress-management strategy
- Yoga and meditation can help in reducing stress
Stress can harm you in more ways than you can imagine. From taking a toll on your immunity to causing weight gain, worsening diabetes and high blood pressure. Being chronically stressed can make you feel fatigued, cause depression and anxiety, increase risk of obesity and heart disease, reduce sex drive, cause skin and hair problems and may even disrupt your digestive system. In one of her recent IGTVs, nutritionist Nmami Agarwal elaborates on how stress takes a toll on your immunity.
Stress: How it affects your immunity and what you can do to control it
In her IGTV, Agarwal informs that consuming a healthy diet and regular exercise are not enough for a healthy immunity. The kind of lifestyle that you live, your level of physical activity, what you eat and how feel about yourself can affect your stress level and affect immunity.
"When we are stressed, the body's ability to fight infection decreases. It results in an increase in cortisol (stress horomone) and reduces activity of immune system," says Agarwal.
Citing example of a tug of war, she says, "In this game, we pull the rope, apply all of our energy and eventually feel drained out. In the same way, when there is an increase in the level of stress, it reduces your immunity. In the case of tug of war, your energy levels can be imagined as your immunity. The pulling of rope can be imagined to be stress."
So, as you pull the rope (stress) you apply more energy (immunity). At the end of the game (with too much stress), you feel drained out of energy (or say immunity).
"This is just an example to explain how your stress hormone is related to your immunity. It is not to imply that playing tug of war will lower down your immunity," she clarifies.
The increase in cortisol level is the result of your body's built-in alarm system. As your stress levels increase, the alarm rings and it is actually a way of your body telling you that something is wrong.
Following are some symptoms of high cortisol levels:
- Rapid weight gain, especially in the face and abdomen
- Muscle weakness
- High blood pressure
- Urinating more frequently
- Increased thirst
- Mood swings
- Sleeping too much or too less
Thus, it is important to work towards reducing stress. It will enable your immunity to function properly and will also improve your mental health. Following are some tried and tested ways of reducing your stress levels:
- Regular exercise
- Breathing exercises
- Indulge in your favourite hobby
- Reduce your caffeine intake
- Stay away from distressing media coverage
- Spend time with friends and family
- Do some household chores
This is the time to stay indoors, take all precautionary measures and maintain social distancing. Stay safe, everyone!
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
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