We are living in unprecdedented times as the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus pandemic. Just the simple act of visiting a grocery store now increases our stress to levels above normal.
This unhealthy stress – Constant worrying, repepetive negative thoughts, and emotions can lead to depression, anxiety and a compromised immune systems.
The Importance of Good Circulation on Immunity
Another impact of stress is a detrimental impact on your circulation. Heightened stress can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, which places greater strain on the walls of your veins. Prolonged stress only compounds the problem.
When pathogens invade the body they immediately confront two major forces: immune-responses and circulatory currents. The immune response is mediated by circulating and sessile hemocytes, the fat body, the midgut, and the salivary glands.
These tissues drive cellular and humoral immune processes that kill pathogens via phagocytosis, melanization, lysis, encapsulation, and nodulation. Moreover, immune-responses take place within a three-dimensional and dynamic space that is governed by the forces of the circulatory system.
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As blood flows throughout the body, carrying naïve and educated immune cells from one site to another, it acts as a pipeline for the immune system. Indeed, it is the preferred route for immune cells to reach the lymph nodes where antigen-specific immune responses develop.
The immune system maintains homeostasis by removing any foreign cells. The circulatory system does this by continuously sending blood and essential substances – like white blood cells from the immune system – through the entire body.
If the circulatory system does not maintain homeostasis, then blood, oxygen, and nutrients – Necessary elements of a strong immune system – will not get where they are needed. For example, the entire body needs oxygen so if it is not being circulated, the body will react.
Reducing Inflammation Critical to Build Immune Function
What you may not know is prolonged stress leads to hyper physiological levels of cortisol. This alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate both the inflammatory and immune response.
When you’re stressed — emotionally or psychologically — your body goes into what’s colloquially called the “fight-or-flight response,” as it readies for, well, fighting or fleeing. The fight-or-flight response itself is meant to be short term and adaptive, which makes sense: When your body goes into that mode, your normal immune function is temporarily shut down.
Inflammation is one of the key processes that alert the immune system but when loss of regulation occurs, a long-term chronic inflammation settles and is likely to be detrimental to the host. Most age-related diseases are linked to a disequilibrium of circulating inflammatory molecules.
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, toxic compounds, or irradiation, and acts by removing injurious stimuli and initiating the healing process. Inflammation is therefore a defense mechanism that is vital to health.
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If you think of fight-or-flight as triggered by something like a tiger chasing you, your body devotes energy and resources to running away, not to sending immune-fighting cells to kill a cold virus. It’s when you’re in that state chronically that the cascading inflammatory response compromises your immune system.
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