Immunity and Mental HealthMelissa Dugan
The human body is absolutely amazing. Like a fascinating machine, it contains numerous concurrently operating functions, working in synergistic harmony. How we feel, think, and sleep is intimately connected to what we consume, do, and learn. The connections between functions are seemingly endless. Lately, especially since COVID-19 made its debut, immune health has taken center stage as one of the most widely researched topics. This is because concerned individuals seek credible information on how to stay healthy. Generic internet searches will provide lists of healthy foods and beneficial vitamins to take, but few examine the surprising link between immunity and mental health.
Because the immune system is complex (like the rest of the human body), there are many factors to consider when trying to understand it. There are plenty of nutrient-dense foods that are beneficial to the immune system, and of course, high-quality multivitamins can surely offer immune support as well. However, you may be surprised to learn that emotional fatigue and other mental health concerns can have an impact on your immunity, too. Maybe even more surprising is the inverse idea that immunity can affect your mental health as well.
The Mind and Immunity – The Surprising Link
Researchers are actively exploring the link between mental and physical health, and professionals unanimously agree that they are absolutely connected. In some cases, research suggests that low immunity can impact mental health; in other cases, it seems that mental health can lower immunity. There is scientific evidence for both outcomes, making this idea even more interesting. To properly understand the connection between immunity and mental health, we will explore both causal relationships.
How low immunity impacts mental health:
Some research has concluded that an insufficient immune system can have a direct, tangible impact on the brain. The studies explore the body’s natural ability to fight off pathogens and protect against inflammation. When the immune system isn’t working optimally and the brain experiences high levels of inflammation, the individual is predisposed to feel low, as their neurotransmitters are negatively impacted. Conversely, when the brain’s neurotransmitters are functioning ideally, individuals experience fewer instances of mood disruption and emotional fatigue.
Does this mean that a strong immune system could reduce fatigue and lower your predisposition for being stressed? Quite possibly.
If your goal is to support your immune system, try:
- Incorporating a more plant-based diet. Consuming foods high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats are much more beneficial to your immune system than fast food, processed meals, and saturated fats.
- Taking an immunity-supporting multivitamin. A high-quality multivitamin is a convenient way to support your immunity on a daily basis.
- Sleeping well consistently. Insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on the immune system. If possible, try to set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. Remember, too much caffeine and too much exposure to screens (phone, tv, etc.) can make falling asleep difficult. Adjust your habits to encourage better sleep, and consider taking a product containing melatonin to help you wind down, if necessary.
Now, let’s explore the inverse relationship.
How mental health impacts immunity:
When an individual is experiencing high levels of mental fatigue and distress, the consequences are both emotional and physical. Research has shown that individuals experiencing severe mental despair have an increased risk for several illnesses, as the despondent brain is less resilient to fight off bacteria and infections. This means that paying special attention to your mental health, by learning healthy coping and processing skills, is not only good for your stress levels, but it’s also good for your body’s overall functioning and immune system.
If you aim to increase your coping skills and support your mental health, try:
- Gratitude Journaling. This daily activity takes only three minutes, and it can change how you process your day. By listing three things you are grateful for each day in your Gratitude Journal, you can shift your attention to the positive things in life, feel more general appreciation, and increase your overall satisfaction with life.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity is helpful for staying fit and athletic, but it also greatly benefits your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins and sends positive signals to the brain. Even simply going for a short walk each day can be remarkable for your mental health.
- Meditation. Meditating encourages the mind to slow down and focus on the present. It encourages mindfulness, appreciation, and promotes emotional clarity.
- A high-quality CBD product. As one of the most popular, all-natural wellness products on the market today, CBD is known for enhancing peace of mind and promoting a sense of balance and harmony. Because hemp-derived CBD is completely legal and non-addictive, it can be used day or night to deliver support when you need it most.
With so much scientific evidence, it’s abundantly clear that immunity and mental health are closely linked. It seems that each one has an influence on the other, so whenever possible, it’s best to take good care of both your immune system and your mental health.
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