Stress has got a bad wrap. It’s a term that we are all familiar, have first-hand experience with and is almost always looked at as a negative. Initiators of our body’s stress response can be psychological, physiological or physical, and the impact of each can vary significantly between individuals.
One thing that a number of us can relate to when it comes to being stressed-out, run-down and exhausted, is to then have it all topped of by being struck down by a cold. The effect chronic stress has on our immune system is just as important to consider as the amount of Vitamin C and Zinc we are taking when preparing ourselves for onslaught of winter bugs.
But first, the stress we need.
The body’s response to stress is essential for our survival (eg fight or flight mechanism) and one of the most potentially undervalued or misunderstood actions of stress is its effect on our immune system. Short-term or acute stress (lasting minutes to hours) triggers specific immune mediated reactions in the body in response to invading pathogens, surgical and non-surgical wounds, infection, injury and vaccinations.
Studies have shown that acute stress enhances activation of our white blood cells (immune cells). This immune-enhancing action involves increasing the concentration, diverting location and enhancing rate of maturation of these important white blood cells.
Stress we don’t want.
In contrast to the immune-protective effects of acute stress, chronic stress has been shown to dysregulate and supress immune function. In our modern, fast paced lives that is often filled with stress (work, money, injury and illness) our immune system is paying the price.
Long-term stress has been shown to have a negative impact on our innate and adaptive immune responses. This can induce low-grade chronic inflammation, while also suppressing the quantity, movement and function of our immune-protective white blood cells.
The result of chronic stress is a body that is less able to protect itself from infection and pathogens, poor at wound healing and is more susceptible to developing pathological immune mediated conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, auto-immune conditions and certain cancers).
Build stress resilience for immune strength.
There are many ways to help manage the impact of stress in the body and promote an internal resilience to stressors. In addition to gentle and restorative techniques (yoga and meditation) and limiting consumption of stimulants (caffeine, alcohol and nicotine), we at Green Trading like to utilize the offerings of nature to give our body an extra helping hand.
Below are our favourite stress and immune supportive supplements to stack, when we are feeling the pressures of life and are wanting to boost our health for winter.
- Ashwagandha (Certified Organic)
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that is classified as an Adaptogen (an agent that helps our body to adapt and cope during times of increased stress). It is a deeply restorative remedy, traditionally utilized for those that were convalescing and recovering from illness as it helps to gently return energy, strength and vitality. Ashwagandha may also help calm the mind, ease mental tension and encourage a good night’s sleep.
Green Trading’s certified organic Ashwagandha is available in vegetarian capsules or loose powder.
- Spirulina (Certified Organic)
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is known for its high nutrient density. It is an incredibly rich source of protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. When it comes to immune health, it is important to ensure adequate intake of protein as well as specific nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamins C. All of which are naturally found in spirulina. Making it an excellent wholefood source of extra nutrition, no cheap synthetic multi’s needed!
Green Trading’s certified organic Spirulina is available as tablets or loose powder.
- Black Seed (Certified Organic)
Nigella sativa (Black Seed) is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that is known to help support healthy immune function. The active component, Thymoquinone, is a powerful anti-oxidant thar helps to protect body tissues against the damage of pro-inflammatory chemicals and molecules. These actions are particularly beneficial to our lungs, and may support healthy airways, breathing and recovery from upper respiratory infections (both viral & bacterial).
Green Trading’s certified organic Black Seed is available in vegetarian capsules or as an oil extract.
Safety considerations: Before taking any medicinal herb supplement, please first check with your health provider. If symptoms persist, contact a medical practitioner.