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How does our external and hidden internal sources of CHRONIC stress accumulate and impact our gut health- which then of course impacts our immune system since 70-80% of our immune system lives in our gut!??

NOW let’s get to how the foundations of NUTRITIONAL THERAPY are always addressed FIRST when working on improving the immune system!

What we eat, how we eat, when we eat and WHY we eat is essential!  As Nutritional Therapists, when we work on helping our clients optimize their health, we work NORTH and work our way south.  Starting with eating a nutritional dense diet, chewing their food, being in the PNS when eating and being in the moment. 

Of course, we ALWAYS need to work on our lifestyle habits as discussed in my “The WHOLESTIC Method Manual” (Amazon books).

  1. Nutrition
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep
  4. Stress reduction
  5. Movement & Mobility
  6. Digestion & Gut Health
  7. Hydration
  8. Happiness, Play and Gratitude

Let’s start with my main topic always- External and HIDDEN internal sources of CHRONIC stress and how it will impact our immune system.

Chronic Stress and Inflammation… how does this connect to a reduced or impaired immune system?

Let’s dive into this research study on the stress response to gut function. Read the entire study here

  1. Stress is a response of the central nervous system to environmental stimuli perceived as a threat to homeostasis.
  2. The stress response triggers the generation of neurotransmitters and hormones from the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, sympathetic axis and brain gut axis, and in this way modulates the intestinal immune system.
  3. The effects of psychological stress on intestinal immunity have been investigated mostly with the restraint/immobilization rodent model, resulting in an up or down modulation of SIgA levels depending on the intensity and time of exposure to stress.
  4. SIgA is a protein complex formed by dimeric (dIgA) or polymeric IgA (pIgA) and the secretory component (SC), a peptide derived from the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR).
  5. The modulation of SIgA associated with stress can have negative repercussions on intestinal function and integrity.
  6. This can take the form of increased adhesion of pathogenic agents to the intestinal epithelium and/or an altered balance of inflammation leading to greater intestinal permeability.
  7. Stress is a response of the central nervous system (CNS) to environmental stimuli perceived as a threat to homeostasis.
  8. The stress response involves a complex network of mechanisms essential for survival, mediated by neurotransmitters, peptidic hormones and endocrine hormones from the enteric nervous system (ENS), a branch of the autonomic nervous system that among other functions affects the production of interleukins (ILs).
  9. These molecules in turn modulate the humoral and cellular components of the intestinal immune system.
  10. The ENS contains both vagal and spinal sensory neurons, which play an essential role in the transference of information from the CNS to ENS and vice versa (de Jonge, 2013).
  11. SIgA and SC secreted into the mucus layer prevent the direct adhesion to the epithelium of pathogenic agents, which are eventually cleared from the lumen. 
  12. SIgA helps to limit the adhesion of luminal antigens to the epithelium.
  13. These antigens, if not excluded in gut secretions, are able to elicit the release of cell derived inflammatory cytokines, which can enhance permeability and disrupt the functional integrity of the gut.
  14. As a result of increased gut permeability, penetration of luminal antigens into the systemic compartment may cause a strong and even life-threatening systemic inflammatory response (Brandtzaeg, 2009Corthésy, 2007).
  15. SIgA and pIgR, along with the intestinal microflora, contribute to gut homeostasis by maintaining the intestinal inflammatory response within the normal physiological limit (Uren et al., 2003Sait et al., 2007Bruno et al., 2010).
  16. The gut microbiota and SIgA are bilaterally modulated, an alteration in one may affect intestinal homeostasis and lead to intestinal inflammation(Suzuki et al., 2004Bruno et al., 2010).
  17. The generation of IgA+ B cells in Peyer’s patches, the homing of IgA+ B cells to the gut lamina propria, and the transcytosis of dIgA/pIgA via pIgR are all potential targets of stress-related effects that can alter SIgA levels.
  18. Gut homeostasis results from neuroimmune modulation by anti- and pro-inflammatory ILs, neurotransmitters and endocrine hormones, all of which influence the generation of intestinal SIgA.
  19. This immunoglobin in turn affects intestinal inflammation and permeability, which are essential factors in the functional integrity of the gut under stress conditions.
  20. Experimental studies with the restraint/immobilization rodent model have resulted in an up or down modulation of SIgA levels depending on the intensity and time of exposure to stress. In the case of down regulation, there is an increased susceptibility to infection and intestinal inflammation.
  21. Pharmacological modulation of the cannabinoid system and the PPAR-γ may be therapeutically useful for intestinal dysfunctions resulting from a stress-induced decrease in SIgA levels.
  22. Future studies should explore the adaptation of experimental models for the evaluation of therapeutic and preventive strategies to control intestinal inflammation and/or infection in patients with high vulnerability to stress.
Read more here

More to come on the connection between CHRONIC stress (more is not better) and how it impacts your immune system.

If stress is on… our immune system is turned down as the SIgA is lowered and then the domino effect occurs starting with gut health.

Lessons learned… Life is NOT a Race. It is a Journey. Enjoy the ride and be in the moment. Learn from my experience by reading my personal story in LIFE IS NOT A RACE – available on Amazon.

Your friend,

Debbie Potts

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