Immunity and Aging: Part 1
Hey there! Did you have a nice weekend? I hope you were able to relax and take in the sunshine.
The whole world has been talking about immunity for over a year in regards to the Corona Virus. Staying healthy has never seemed so top of mind in our culture as it does right now. But, I want to talk about immunity in terms of general aging.
The body wears out. As much as that disappoints us, it's a fact of nature. We can prolong life in many ways, we can have the heart fixed, remove tumors, replace joints and a million other things but, that doesn't change the truth that the body is most definitely in need of more TLC later in life. Taking care of our immune system is a very important part of this kind of self-care in aging.
Our immune system is our defense against foreign invaders and it's function gradually declines as we age. BUT DON'T WORRY! There is SO much you can do to support yourself with Ayurveda so your immunity stays as robust as possible.Those of you with auto-immune illnesses-you too, will benefit in huge, positive ways using Ayurveda to keep your immune system running strong. Ayurveda is a rockstar when it comes to helping those with autoimmune disease.
The immune system can fail in two ways, by being under-active or over-active. An under-active immune system means it's not able to keep up with the demands of attacking invaders which leaves you vulnerable to frequent viral infections and illness. This often happens when we are run down after long periods of stress or, it could be the result of a bigger disease like AIDS. An over-active immune system is one that can't differentiate between healthy cells and foreign invaders so it attacks both-these attacks can happen in localized areas like the gut, joints, thyroid, or even the whole body. This is what we call autoimmune disease. Those with autoimmune illnesses often go through periods of feeling good and then experience flare-ups when their immune system is triggered, for example, by stress, environmental factors or diet.
My friend, Elizabeth Kirchner, is a CNP at the Cleveland Clinic and has been working in the department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases for years. She is my go-to when I have questions about autoimmune illnesses. She reinforces the Ayurvedic philosophy that gut health, quality sleep, limiting stress and improving lifestyle is the ticket to stronger immunity, less auto-immune flares/symptoms and better overall quality of life. We have to take care of these basic things if we want a strong, healthy immune system.
This week, let's focus on one thing you can do for your immune health:
LOWER YOUR STRESS!
Stress is the leading cause of many illnesses because it breaks down immunity. Prolonged periods of stress is extremely damaging to all the systems of the body.
Environmental stress also affects our immune system. For example, right now, we are in a seasonal transition. Trees, shrubs and flowers are still blooming releasing tons of pollen into the air. Our bodies are working hard to deal with that. Anytime the seasons change you need to support your body. This is why Ayurveda teaches us to cleanse at the seasonal shifts and adjust our routines so we stay in balance.
Take a moment to think about your life and evaluate your stress level right now.
Are you currently experiencing any stress?
If currently stressed, HOW stressed are you?
Do you anticipate any changes in your routine in the next several weeks/months that will cause you to become stressed?
Is there anything that needs to change in your life to reduce stress?
When do you plan on making these changes?
Are you scared of making these changes?
Knowing how you respond to stress and anticipating upcoming potential stressful situations can help you prepare and keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
Sometimes, we know a big change that needs to happen in our life for our health and happiness. But, making a huge change can be daunting and downright scary. Get support to help you make those changes. You don't have to be alone through it all, and you might find the push you need in order to stop making excuses. Liberate yourself.
And finally...Stop glorifying busyness. Constantly being busy is chronic stress. It's not good.
Take this week to really think about the role stress plays in your life. Experiencing stress is an inevitable part of living, but knowing how to manage it will keep you running strong!
If you've had success in managing stress in your life and want to share, drop me a line, I'd love to hear about it!
Next week, we'll take a look at reducing inflammation in the body as it pertains to immune health. Stay tuned...
Be chill :)