Are your hormones putting your immunity at risk? The answer may surprise you, I know it surprised me when I first found out. We all know that men and women are great at a lot of different and similar things. But what most of us are unaware of are the situations in which the deck is stacked against us and the odds are no longer in our favor. Turns out immunity happens to be one of those situations where our genetic makeup may have more of a role than we originally thought. Now, I don’t mean that we are genetically inheriting our parents compromised immune system (which can happen depending on illness or even age). I am referring to our ownership of either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome.
Immunity Friend Or Foe
While we all know that our hormones can have a devastating effect on our immune system. Most individuals are unaware at just how big a role our sex hormones have on our immune system. There are multiple hormones that have the largest impact on your immune system:
If you were wondering where your hormones had you weighing in Estrogen is one of the sex hormones that increases your immune system. Don’t get too excited yet ladies. While women have a natural advantage of an increased immune response, this also means they are more likely to develop an autoimmune disease. Estrogen helps regulate the immune system by regulation of the endosomal therefore your hormonal balance will directly determine your overall immune response. Because women generate higher antibody responses, however, it can result in higher levels of antibody response to vaccinations making them more effective for women than men. Estrogen typically helps regulate the immune system by impairing negative selection of high affinity auto-reactive B cells. This in turn alters B cell function and leads to an increased response.
A Life Of Excess
Our Estrogen levels have also been shown to influence physiological functions through the use of endo ribosomes which are expressed in the brain, gut epithelial cells, lymphoid tissue cells, and immune cells. Estrogen can also induce T cell targeting by enhancing the expression of CCR5. Because T cells are critical for identifying unwanted cells or intruders, having the ability to enhance their activity can have a beneficial effect on our immune response. Unfortunately, this same ability when used too often can alter T cells to target healthy cells due to excess of expression. This typically results in an autoimmune condition. Clearly, our hormones are doing even more behind the scene work than we first thought. Proving just how important it can be to ensure our hormones are getting the balance they need to function properly and regularly.
Another big player in our immunity is the sex hormone Testosterone. Unlike its counter partner Estrogen it is an immunity suppressant. Testosterone impacts the immune system by altering the Th1 response while activating the CD8 cells which reduce killer cells response and increasing inflammation. In essence Testosterone works against the immune system in two parts, inflammation and weakening defensive cells in the body. The body’s first response to any intruder is with inflammation. This helps increase blood flow to the area of interest while pushing the bodies first responders (white blood cells) to the site. Inflammation, however, is not intended for prolonged use. Just like the freeway during rush hour and certain sections have sig alerts typically this is due to an accident so is inflammation. But if the traffic continues to be stalled no one can get to their destination, it’s the same with blood cells containing nutrients.
One of the unfortunate facts of life is that we all have to deal with stress on a daily basis. Most of us don’t handle stress quite as well as we should. When we suffer from excess stress it can have damaging effects on our body. Some of the side effects connected with stress are: brain fog, memory loss, digestive issues (remember your digestive system makes up 80% of your immune system), weakened immunity, weight gain, hair loss, skin issues (breakouts, rashes, etc), trouble sleeping, and more! While stress is often unavoidable there are things that we can do to actively reduce our Cortisol production and ensure that we have a better handle on our stress levels. Some of this includes making time to relax, doing things we love to do (especially things that can make you laugh), the smell of orange, and more.
How To Keep It All Together
Here’s the thing about your hormones that most people forget to tell you, your hormone levels are constantly changing throughout your day and life. This means that you will need to actively do your part to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and ensure you are getting a good quality of sleep. I know first hand just how difficult things can get when your hormones rise up against you. Due to excessively high Estrogen levels (Estrogen dominance), I found myself in a situation where my body was fighting off everything including me! Luckily, my journey to health and wellness helped open my eyes to all of the different options readily available to me. One of my favorite ways to do just that is with amazing recipes so here is a family favorite that is sure to help keep your hormones checked and your immunity up!
Baked Honey Dijon Salmon
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Serves 4
- 4 (4 ounce) Fillets of Salmon
- ¼ Cup Vegan Butter
- 4 tsp Italian Parsley Fresh (minced)
- 3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 ½ Tbsp Raw Local Honey
- ¼ Cup Pecans Finely Chopped
- 1 Lemon
- ¼ Cup Almond Meal
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl combine vegan butter, mustard, and honey. Using another bowl mix together almond meal, pecans, and parsley. Lightly season salmon with a sprinkle of sea salt then brush each with a thin coat of the honey mustard mixture and top with “bread crumb mixture”. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Garnish with a quarter of the lemon.
Gluten-Free Vegan (serves 4)
- 1 lb Broccoli Florets Broken Up (about 1-2 inch pieces or less)
- 2 Tbsp Avocado Oil
- 1 Lemon Cut Into Wedges
- 2 tsp Sea Salt
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 2 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Vegan Grated Parmesan Cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss broccoli and garlic in oil and seasonings. Spread out on a non-stick cooking sheet and squeeze lemon over broccoli (I like to leave the lemon wedges in to roast too and squeeze them a second time over the broccoli). Top with vegan parmesan and roast for about 25-30 minutes depending on your oven or until broccoli starts to crisp up.
Need a Helping Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!