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It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.
Medical experts have long suspected an important link between the immune system and stress. In recent decades, their suspicions have been confirmed through research. The body’s stress response, while meant to protect us in the face of danger, can actually wreak havoc on our ability to fight off illness and can even contribute to disease over a prolonged basis.
Fortunately, Cenegenics is here to help. While it’s not always easy to keep worries at bay — especially during uncertain times — we’ve pioneered the medical specialty of age management and are well-suited to help patients develop healthy coping mechanisms that will benefit their immune system. Discover our insights for tackling stress to improve immunity below.
When we experience stress, the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system. In response, it releases a surge of hormones to prepare the body for fighting an emergency. On a short-term basis, this function serves us well: it allows us to react quickly and appropriately in dangerous or high-stakes situations.
Yet, this response also suppresses our immunity. It releases cortisol, which in turn decreases white blood cells and natural killer cells (special cells which fight tumors and viruses), leading to an increased rate of infection and tissue damage. Slight dips in immunity from time to time aren’t cause for concern, but when stress persists over a continual basis, its effects become cumulative and can significantly impact the immune system. 
Stress responses affect the body on many levels. For one, they impact the digestive system: adrenaline spikes caused by stress can create stomach ulcers, for instance. The stress response also increases the heart rate, straining the circulatory system and ultimately raising blood pressure. Over time, the elevated heart rate can result in an accelerated buildup of cholesterol, leaving individuals more susceptible to cardiovascular problems.  Clearly, stress and the immune system go hand-in-hand, and increased or prolonged exposure to stressors can have a domino effect on the body’s ability to fight illness.
While chronic stress is indeed dangerous, the harmful effects of stress can even manifest over a short period of time. In studying medical students, researchers have found that immunity dropped for students during a three-day span of exams. Not only did the students have fewer natural killer cells, but they nearly stopped producing immunity-boosting gamma interferon. T-cells, which fight infections, also showed a diminished response. 
It therefore should come as no surprise that stress is linked to a number of serious health conditions, including:
In fact, some experts believe stress could be responsible for up to 90% of illness and serious disease.  Left unaddressed, high stress causes sustained levels of inflammation, which has been linked to the progression of many immune system disorders including:
Fortunately, there are ways to control stress, and thus, its effects on the immune system.
Since stress and the immune system will always be inextricably tied, the best way to prevent stressors from compromising immunity is to find healthy de-stressors. Here are a few practices to implement into your routine.
Of course, there are several other ways to minimize stress, including regular exercise, which can further boost the body’s immune system. Regular physical fitness can flush bacteria from the airways, reducing the risk of illness, and generate positive changes in antibodies and white blood cell levels.  Similarly, getting ample sleep and following a healthy diet can produce immune-boosting effects which could help to alleviate health-related worries, even if they don’t necessarily lead to immediate reductions in stress.
Combatting stress should be a priority for all individuals, not only for its effects on mental health but to control its impact on our physical wellbeing, too. Here at Cenegenics, we not only recommend healthy practices for coping with stress, but we also prime the immune system for peak performance by taking a highly scientific approach to fine-tuning the body at the cellular level. Patients in our program have an advantage when it comes to avoiding and fighting off illness: their biological clock has been reversed and their body has been rebalanced to where it was in their 20s and 30s. As a result, they feel better within 30 to 60 days of starting the program — just see what they have to say on our Cenegenics review page.
We’re the “doctor’s doctor,” with 25% of our patient base comprising physicians and their family members. If you’re ready to see why so many experts trust us with their wellness, want to inquire about Cenegenics’ cost, or simply have questions about the program, don’t hesitate to contact your nearest location today.
Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You’ll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It’s quick + easy.
About the Contributor
Rudy Inaba Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise
Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.
References How Stress Affects the Immune System. Goliszek, Andrew Ph.D. Psychology Today. Derived from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system  Stress, Illness and the Immune System. McLeod, Saul. Simply Psychology. Derived from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html  See above. Derived from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html  See above. Derived from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system  What Happens When Your Immune System Gets Stressed Out? Cleveland Clinic. Derived from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/  See above. Derived from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/  See above. Derived from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/  See above. Derived from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system  Stress Weakens the Immune System. American Psychological Association. Derived from: https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune  Exercise and immunity. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. Derived from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm