In the battle for immune power, it is easy to overlook how Balanced Hormones = Coronavirus Defense.
Hormone balance DOES affect the immune system. In this brief overview, we will share general information to help you be aware of the Balanced Hormones = Coronavirus Defense correlation… a healthy immune response.
Many things can be confusing during a health crisis, so let’s start with the language we use when talking about the current state of affairs. Coronaviruses belong to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), but usually cause only mild illnesses (e.g., common cold). On February 11th 2020 the coronavirus study group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2); and the World Health Organization (WHO) formally named the disease triggered by SARS‐CoV‐2 as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19).
Coronaviruses are called “corona” because of the crown-like projections that protrude from their surface – on the outside the virus structure is enveloped in a casing of lipid molecules with protein spikes . This oily lipid structure falls apart on contact with soap; this is why washing your hands is important to prevent or at least minimize the spread of illness.
Thyroid – A strong immune system needs an active production of Natural Killer Cells (NK or NKCs – part of the immune system’s first line of defense) to fight off foreign intruders. Researchers found that NK cells were more active among individuals with optimal levels of thyroid hormones.
Low thyroid levels can hamper the body’s response to viruses, and also cause a sluggish response to inflammation.
“If you are concerned about your hormone levels being balanced, that’s what we specialize in here at JoyRich Healthcare Centers. We create personalized programs for our clients, focusing on optimal health!”Lori Wagner
Estrogen – Extremely high or low estrogen levels affect the immunity. Excessive production of estrogen can suppress the thyroid, as well as reduce the activity levels of NK cells and interleukin 2. Interleukin 2 is produced by T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to stimulate the immune system.
Progesterone – Low levels of progesterone has been linked to some autoimmune diseases. Correct progesterone balance affects proper T-cell and NK cell activity.
It has also been observed that progesterone aids immune system development in the fetus, during pregnancy.
There’s No Treatment (Yet) – But Here’s What You Need to Know
With no preventative vaccine and no curative treatment for COVID-19 out as this articles publishing, relying on our own immune system to protect us from the threat of COVID is one of our best options for now. Just to be clear, there’s no magic food or pill that is guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you against the virus. However, there are ways to keep your immune system functioning optimally, which can help to keep you healthy and give you a sense of control in an uncertain time.
Estradiol is a female sex steroid and its actions extend way beyond reproduction – it plays an important role in modulating immune events as well [9, 10]. It seems appropriate to talk about sex steroids in the context of SARS-CoV-2 as it appears that men and women are equally likely to contract the virus, but men have a harder time fighting off the infection. Clinical studies reveal stark inequality between how men and women’s bodies handle infections. Women have evolved to be particularly robust – fast and strong immune responses, likely to protect them during pregnancy and the postpartum period. (This immune protection, however, comes at a cost – women are also more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases). Estradiol equips the body with potent protective anti-inflammatory effects, which could certainly come in handy during the “cytokine storm” resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 infection (Fig. 1) . Estrogen-responsive immune parameters are going to be especially important during hormonal transition times like menopause when estradiol levels decrease and the body loses its protective effects, now being exposed to a ravaging onslaught of inflammatory processes .
Cortisol tends to get a bad rap, receiving the blame for anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, high blood pressure, you name it. It does all these bad things, but only when chronically high and not following a normal circadian rhythm. But we often forget that our bodies need cortisol to survive and having just enough cortisol around at the right time of day optimizes and boosts immunity while limiting inflammation [13, 14]. When stress doesn’t abate, however, too much cortisol can become destructive, opening the door for chronic immunosuppression. We are witnessing the COVID-19 pandemic unfold on a global scale, so it’s not surprising that all of us are affected and experience “empathetic stress” as we watch so many other people out there in distress and our own anxiety over the uncertainty of the situation. Keeping stress levels and, with that, normal circadian cortisol levels throughout the day, in check is going to be very important to maintaining a healthy immune response .
Vitamin D – typically called a “vitamin”, vitamin D is a precursor to a fat-soluble hormone – a substance that our skin produces in response to being out in sunlight. Vitamin D is best known to keep our bones healthy and strong by helping to assimilate calcium from our diet into skeletal tissues. At the gene level, the active form of vitamin D regulates the expression of hundreds of genes. Research shows that vitamin D is protective against acute respiratory infections .
Minerals like Zinc and Selenium – zinc can inhibit viral replication and shorten the duration of a common cold caused by a virus ; while selenium, forming part of selenoproteins including the antioxidant glutathione, contributes to our biggest defense system against the reactive oxygen species that viruses generate and contribute to the destructive inflammatory conditions in the lungs and heart at the late stages of COVID-19 infection.
As we wait for vaccine development against and testing for SARS-CoV-2 to ramp up, taking care of your health, starting with a healthy immune system, is going to be very important. Currently many doctors are transitioning from in-person appointments to telemedicine visits which presents an inherent problem in obtaining objective information like physical exams and labs. ZRT Laboratory is here to help by providing simple, minimally invasive lab testing from samples that patients can collect from the comfort (and necessity) of their own home.
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