Spring is upon us. With all of the warm wet weather we have had during the winter, many areas are experiencing high levels of mold. Pollen levels are exploding well into “off the chart” ranges and now there is more rain in the forecast, hachoooo!
For many people this is allergy time with a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, the whole works. For other folks it’s just another beautiful spring day with good sleeping temperatures at night. What’s the difference between them? The answer is found in the functioning or dys-functioning of the immune system. Twenty percent of the population in the United States suffers from allergies, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be among them. Immune system dys-function can occur for several reasons; a common one is from excessive levels of stress for a prolonged period of time.
There are many ways to neutralize the effects of stress but drugs and alcohol aren’t the answer, their short term “benefit” isn’t worth the biochemical damage that they do. If we think about the nature of the stress response, and the negative effects of some types of stress (prolonged, unexpected, or unmanageable stress), several healthy management strategies become clear.
Among the many stress reducing strategies that are available, some of the best include meditation, getting enough sleep, doing things for fun to balance the stress, and exercise. Since the stress response prepares us to fight or flee, our bodies are primed for action. Unfortunately, we usually handle our stresses while sitting at our desk, standing at the water cooler, or behind the wheel stuck in traffic. Exercise on a regular basis helps to turn down the production of stress hormones and associated neurochemicals. Likewise adding certain foods to your diet will help to combat some of the biochemical shifts that stress produces, consider:
- Oranges or Cantaloupe.
- Sweet potatoes.
Over the past decade, research has demonstrated that not only does stress suppress the immune system and often lead to the development of new allergies but it can also accelerate the growth and spread of cancer. With the recent change of the seasons, this is a good time to stop ... take a deep breath and assess your stress nullifying habits. Now go and enjoy a turkey sandwich with some blueberries for a snack.