Hormones…the Key to a Strong Immune System
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how to strengthen your immune system. With the current COVID-19 pandemic it’s a pretty hot topic.
And there are lots of ideas. The options range from immune-boosting foods and supplements to exercise and better sleep habits.
These are all good ideas. Unfortunately, they overlook the most important influence on how your immune system performs…
Your immune system may be your first line of defense against viruses, germs and other bodily invaders…but your hormones are the support system that keeps your immune system working at its best.
Think of your immune system like it’s a field army tasked with defending your body. All of the communications and logistics support to make sure the army finds and defeats the enemy? That’s the role your hormones play.
But if your hormones aren’t in proper balance? Then your immune system is like an army whose supply chain and communications network have failed. The soldiers may be skilled…but they lack the information and supplies to fight effectively.
So which hormones are most important to your immune system…and how do they work?
Years ago, researchers noticed something interesting.
Before women reached menopause, they appeared to have more resistance than men to common viruses like colds and the flu. However, after menopause they seemed to lose that advantage.
At the same time, autoimmune diseases (where the immune system itself attacks the body) seem to be more frequent in premenopausal women.
These two observations illustrate the importance of estrogen to your immune system.
Estrogen enhances the function of immune system cells such as neutrophils and T-cells. To use the military analogy…they make the soldiers in your immune system fight more effectively.
Of course, if these cells become over-stimulated, the result can be auto-immune diseases. As always, proper hormone balance is the key.
Inflammation is one of the ways your immune system fights off intruders. Progesterone plays two important roles in this process:
- Progesterone initiates production of cytokines…the immune cells that initiate inflammation.
- When the need for inflammation has passed, progesterone dampens the inflammation response so cell repair can begin.
Growth hormone enhances proper immune system function by stimulating the production of pathogen-fighting agents like:
- New antibodies (which help your body identify pathogens)
- Interlukin-2 cells
- White blood cells
- Red blood cells
GH also stimulates the activity of bacteria-fighting cells known as macrophages.
Although the exact relationship between thyroid hormone and immune system function is still under study, one particular thyroid hormone (known as T3) appears to play a significant role in innate immunity.
Simply stated, innate immunity is how your immune system recognizes and combats pathogens it hasn’t seen before. T3 stimulates the activity of a number of cells in the immune system including neutrophils, NK (natural killer) cells, macrophages and dendritic cells.
Also called the “stress hormone”, cortisol is produced by your body to deal with stress.
If the stress is short-lived, cortisol can actually boost your immune system by limiting inflammation.
Long-term stress, however, is a different matter. Your body gets accustomed to the excess cortisol in your blood…causing more inflammation. The result can be inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis.
In addition, stress (and too much cortisol) reduce your immune system’s supply of lymphocytes. These white blood cells are your body’s primary defense against viruses.
What to Do
Proper hormone balance is critical to your health and well-being. A big part of that has to do with the way hormones support your immune system.
Want to feel better and stay healthy through proper hormone balance? Renew Youth is here to help. Call us at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to arrange your free 30-minute consultation.