Welcome to Episode #2 of Inspiration.Education.Meditation with me, Dr. Grewal, as I discuss the 3 Ways You Can Create Immune Resilience. What is resilience?
Resilience is a process that allows individuals to a adapt to adverse conditions and recover from them.
You've probably heard people say, "Stress can cause you to have more frequent colds." But is this real? Is there a relationship between stress and immune system health? Is it a unidirectional relationship where stress impacts immune system, or is it bidirectional, where stress impacts the immune system and the impaired immune system impacts your ability to get stressed?
The relationship between stress and the immune system is complex. Some things to consider:
Types of Stressors: Interpersonal conflicts, Economical Issues, and Adverse Childhood Trauma.
We know via studies, that stress impacts your immune system making it harder for us to fight a viral infection. A poor immune system leads to inflammation via heightened levels of cytokines, or c-reactive proteins. This reduces your ability to cope with psychological stress in a bi-directional way.
There are two types of stress: Acute and Chronic.
Acute stress, where it is more of a momentary stressful situation, is immunoprotective as it triggers your cortisol-a powerful anti inflammatory agent. Acute stress boosts your immune system responses. Yet over time, persistent high levels of stress, which causes high levels of IL-6 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine) and c-reactive proteins in your body, will suppress both your innate and adaptive immune system responses.
In this situation of chronic stress, your body cannot function properly to produce the necessary cortisol and the cells of your immune becomes less responsive overall to cortisol. This process is termed glucocorticoid resistance, or what you may be hearing as 'adrenal fatigue.' Some symptoms of this low-cortisol, HPAGT axis dysfunctional state are constant tiredness, low blood pressure, and salt cravings.
Ultimately, if you are chronically stressed and catch a virus like the common cold, studies show that you will experience more severe symptoms than someone who is not chronically stressed out.
And did you know that chronic stress can impair your blood-brain barrier (BBB)? Your body has barriers all over, but your BBB is the epithelium layer joined by tight junctions that seals anything from entering the nervous system. Only very few things can cross this barrier or break it down, making it leaky, allowing toxins to cross...with systemic, chronic inflammation being a main culprit.
Similarly, inflammation weakens the lining of your intestines, causing what you often hear of as 'leaky gut'.
What else causes inflammation besides stress?
Antibiotic use, certain medications, toxins, and the standard American diet can break down the intestinal wall junctions. This creates access for bacteria in your gut to cross through and become systemic inflammation, ie; inflammation throughout your body.
One of the biochemical pathways that becomes activated is your kynurenine pathway from the neurotransmitter, tryptophan, creating inflammation in the brain. This is an example of the gut-brain axis connection. So, if you have leaky gut-you have leaky brain. This is why my patients who have gut issues, often have psychological symptoms too.
This condition, dysbiosis, where the microbes in your gut are imbalanced, can lead to depression. There are two major bacteria families in your gut, with 400-500 species in each! In fact, you have more microbial cells in your body than human cells, with the colon being the most dense. Your mouth, your blood...your organs all have specific microbes. There is a complex relationship between your microbes and your immune system, with both keeping each other in check.
For example, dysbiosis in one patient can present as dermatitis, whereas in another patient it may present as Hashimoto's, inflammatory osteoarthritis, neuropathy, or cardiometabolic diseases like diabetes, or autoimmune diseases. The synergy between your immune system and the commensal good or bad gut bacteria has been lost and your body is trying to fight the chronic inflammation created from this dysbiosis.
Furthering this, stress reduces the needed diversity in your gut and salivary microbes, which is something I test for in my clinic. Also, anger and fear can increase bad bacteria and maternal separation has been shown to disrupt the integrity of the intestinal microflora in infant rhesus monkeys.
Consider the aspects of your own lifestyle that could be affecting your gut health. As you can see in the video above, I share with you the results of patients labs. The labs help me to see at a cellular level, what specifically is going on in their microbiome, which helps me create a personalized multi-prong approach for healing from these issues.
Some people just seem to be born more thick-skinned, while others are more soft-hearted. However, you can acquire the individual behaviors that will make you psychologically more resilient to stress.
1. Live a preventative lifestyle. Include psychobiotics (what you often hear as being called probiotics). Include prebiotics like inulin, garlic, leeks, and onions. Include anti-inflammatory herbs like ashwagandha, resveratrol, and other plants that contain polyphenols which lower inflammation.
2. Heal from Childhood trauma. Make sure you seek professional help to guide you through this.
3. Get your stool tested if you have chronic medical conditions. You need to know what's inside your gut before you try to start fixing it...and Work with a Functional Medicine MD who can comprehend these labs, is aware of your body's complexities, offers a personalized plan, and makes sure you are safe along your healing journey.
You cannot achieve world class health results by just showing up. To get the results you are seeking you must make health your priority and consider this to be a total craft mastery project.
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD
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