Why does stress lower the immune system?

What is stress? 

Stress is a normal body response to pressure from a certain situation or event. It can be in the form of physical, emotional, or mental reactions. Not all stress is negative, stress can keep us focused and alert, it helps our body adjust to new situations. However, the stress associated with the growing epidemic of burnout and other problems is what we should be worried about. 

The stress body response was built in from our ancestral primates; the fight or flight response helps us force stressful situations, where your body’s automatic nervous system speeds up your heart rate, breathing, and more. When we are in a stressful situation, cortisol is released and it can boost our immunity by limiting inflammation. However in the modern world, we face more prolonged chronic stress, and this activation can result in physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms such as exhaustion, insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, depressions or unhealthy behaviour like gambling, overeating, drug /alcohol abuse, and opens the door for more inflammation and reduce our immune system to fight off bad antigens. 


The connection between stress and gut health

We are slowly understanding the impact gut health has on our bodies. New empirical data shown stress can change the balance of bacteria that naturally occur in our gut. Exposure to stress may lead to a change in composition, diversity, and number of gut microorganisms. 

In a study about the impact of academic stress on salivary cortisol concentrations and lactic acid bacteria activity of 23 healthy undergraduate students showed that the faecal lactic acid bacterial levels of healthy undergraduate students were lower during the high-stress condition. Independently and mutually, diet, stress, and mood can substantially influence which gut microbe will thrive in our gut.  


Diet is a key factor in gut dysbiosis

By now we all know “you are what you eat “ is related to our gut health. Diet is a key factor in gut dysbiosis, dysbiosis can increase the risk of infection or autoimmune disease. Stress & depression will also influence our food choices which feed to this negative feedback loop. This is revealed in the study where women reported prior day stressor had lower fat oxidation, higher insulin and lower resting energy expenditure than those who reported no prior day stress. This lower caloric expenditure can potentially be translated to 7-11 pounds of weight gain per year. Gut bacteria will also impact the appetite-regulating peptide and hormone, hence influencing our food choices. 


In a study of 40 women, neuroimaging study tracked the patterns of brain activation following exposure to emotional stimuli. Randomized controlled trials featuring probiotics suggest a causal link between the gut microbiome and stress response. After a month of drinking the probiotic-containing fermented drinks, healthy women had less activity in sensation and emotion brain loci when exposed to emotional stimuli. Probiotic supplementation also improved sleep, and bowel habits and reduced cortisol. One of the most powerful studies in rodents have shown that rats introduced with antibiotics had a dramatic behaviour change, and in another study where faecal matter from depressed human was introduced to microbe-depleted rat and induced depressive-like behaviour in the rats. 


R’s KOSO contains not only prebiotics but as well as probiotic and post-biotic that is produced over 1-year fermentation of 100+ ingredients. A great source of nutritious ingredients and rich in probiotics that supports your gut health, where 80% of the immune system exists. Thus boosting immunity which ultimately contributes better mental and physical health, providing mental clarity as well as improving your sleep. 


Meditation is definitely a great way to reduce stress. If you are interested in that, learn about the gut-brain connection and the benefits of meditation!


 Learn about the gut brain connection and the benefits of meditation!


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