There has been a lot of news on this novel coronavirus dubbed COVID-19. I am not an epidemiologist, yet with my area of expertise in neuro-immune-endocrinology or your body’s internal communication, I can honestly say that your hormones definitely affect your immunity to a virulent virus like COVID-19.
When you become hormonally challenged – your hormones are out of balance -your immune system is challenged as well and has difficulty protecting you.
Your imbalanced hormones affect your hypothalamic function which then affects immune function.
Your hypothalamus controls your immunity by orchestrating your thymus to program your T-cells to protect you. The most thorough protection is at night. When you’re asleep, your immune system cleans house – ridding your body of invaders. Your hypothalamus also controls your sleep cycles.
Your immune system works in basically two ways – humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity. Humoral immunity secretes antibodies to fight against antigens. Antigens are anything foreign to our bodies like viruses. Cell-mediated immunity secretes cytokines but not antibodies to attack the pathogens. Cytokines are tiny immune hormones calling for the attack of certain cells that are infected or cancerous.
When your hormones become out of balance, your immune system does not do its job properly. For women, high levels of estrogen in our reproductive years protect us and our potential children by influencing our immune systems to make antibodies against a variety of diseases.
Eventually when this coronavirus pandemic is over – we will have antibodies against it – through vaccination or infection. The problem now is that COVID-19 is new to the human species – we don’t have antibodies to protect us.
And when you’re already challenged – say postmenopausal – your immunity is lower. That’s because you make fewer antibodies to protect you. Studies have shown that in postmenopausal women, their white blood cell activity is not the same as when they were still reproductively viable – still having periods.
After the change in both men and women, your immune system depends more on cell-mediated immunity and less on humoral immunity. You make fewer antibodies. You forget how to fight common bugs. Like chickenpox. Then if you’re exposed to a child with chickenpox their infection can actually activate shingles in you, because you are no longer producing enough estrogen, to promote your antibody protection against varicella.
We also know that if you give postmenopausal women estrogen, that their levels of antibodies start to rise again, not as high as is in their reproductive years, but much higher – enough to help to protect them.
And there’s a gender difference in COVID cases. Stats from China and Italy show that men are more likely to die from Covid than women. Men are also more likely to smoke in those countries, but there’s more.
In 2017, researchers noted that male mice are more susceptible to coronatype viruses (SARS & MERS) than female mice, until they removed the ovaries of the female mice – then their vulnerability and death rate are equal. Estrogen seems to be protective.
Our responses to COVID-19 could reveal important distinctions between the way that men’s and women’s immune systems fight infection. It’s suspected that hormonal differences may be playing a key role in that immune response.
We know that estrogen’s effect on the immune system is key to protect future generations as women during their reproductive years create antibodies to pass onto their babies.
Once we’re born, we create antibodies against infections by getting the disease, by just being exposed to the disease or by being vaccinated against the disease. Once enough of us are exposed to a virus our antibodies create herd immunity.
But COVID-19 is new to us. We don’t have immunity against it. That’s why we are taking such extreme measures to slow down the rate of spread of the virus. Until the majority of us have antibodies against it.
Antibodies tell your white blood cells how to eradicate an infection. It’s like computer programming. Adequate antibody production requires hormonal competence. As we age and our hormones deplete, we make less antibodies to protect us.
Now the problem with the COVID-19 is that we believe that the way that people die from it is from something called a cytokine storm – too much of these little mini hormones cause an overreaction to the coronavirus. A cytokine storm creates so much inflammation, particularly in the lungs, so your lungs are no longer able to make surfactant causing your air sacs to collapse. And you suffocate. The cytokine storm can cause also myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle so that heart doesn’t function properly which can be fatal.
Your hormones affect your ability to fight off COVID-19.
So how do you stay hormonally competent so your immune system functions optimally?
Hormonal competence for optimal immunity requires that you do five key things:
1. Lower your stress response
First try not to panic. Lowering your stress response is key. Because when you panic, your adrenals waste so many hormonal resources. Progesterone particularly is used by your adrenals to make the stress hormone – cortisol. And high adrenal production of adrenaline and cortisol to fuel your fight or flight response will suppress your immune response.
I use a CALM meditation to help train your body to make more GABA and mitigate the effects of stress.
2. Get enough sleep
Your immune system does it’s best work at night. Under the influence of melatonin and prolactin, your white blood cells eradicate any foreign invader – like coronavirus. You can’t make enough melatonin with the lights on. So sleeping in the dark for at least 7-9 hours is key to protecting you. And be sure your bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the most melatonin and get the best immune response, turn off digital devices after dusk. Read a real book instead, play games with your house mates, share stories. And laugh – it’s good for your immune system,
And be sure to STOP watching the news after dark. It’ll keep your mind in worry mode and you’ll have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
3. Eat nourishing foods
In order to keep your hormones in a healthy balance, your body needs the right nutrients. There’s no reason why you can’t eat well. The highly processed foods may have been cleared off the shelves, but the produce section is full. And this is a great time to learn how to cook some new healthy recipes.
Eating a colorful plant based diet which focuses on lots of antioxidants helps reduce inflammation to protect you.
Eating enough protein to maintain your lean body mass helps your hormones stay in balance. You need 1⁄2 gm protein per pound of lean body mass.
You can use any of the online body fat calculators to get a rough estimate of your protein requirements. Plus be sure you’re eating healthy fat to make hormones that will help support your immunity.
4. Stay active
Being active means exercise – you’ve got the time now that we’re all on quarantine. I know you might not feel motivated, but if you want your hormones to stay balanced so your immune system can protect you, you’ve got to get up and move.
Just ten minutes of activity three times a day. Walk up and down your stairs. Dance, no one’s watching. Do laps around your house. Just move quick enough to get your heart rate up.
Better yet get outside if you can – of course, 6 feet away from others – that way you’ll get enough sunshine to make vitamin D which helps your hormones to enter the receptor sites allowing them to get into the cells and do their job properly. Plus vitamin D helps support your immune system.
5. Support your hypothalamus
This is key to keeping your hormones in balance and your immune system function. Plus a balanced hypothalamus helps your neurological system – your brain – to work optimally. And that’s important to adjust to this new way of life.
Your hypothalamus needs key nutrients and amino acids to function optimally. Way more than you can possibly get from food especially during this stressful time.
I’ve gathered everything you need to support optimal hypothalamic function – micronutrient rich sea vegetation, sprouted plants, botanical herbs, digestive and detoxification support, and special amino acid blend designed specifically for your hypothalamus – in Genesis Gold®.
Genesis Gold® is helping keep my patients and my family healthy. The first cases of Covid-19 in my family practice have recovered in an extraordinarily short time with mild disease. I believe by following the five key steps of stress reduction, getting enough sleep, healthy diet, adequate exercise and supporting their hypothalamus with Genesis Gold® is key to keeping them hormonally balanced and their immune systems functioning optimally.
Join our Hormone Reboot Training which focuses on how to balance your hypothalamus naturally. And you’ll get access to our Hormone Support Group where we’re keeping you abreast of how to protect yourself from COVID-19.
Your hypothalamus is the maestro of your entire symphony of hormones, neurotransmitters, and immune factors.
If you’re not dancing in perfect health, your hormones are out of tune. Why tune up each instrument, when you can support the maestro and heal everything?
Hormones in Harmony® shows you how to balance your hypothalamus naturally to heal your body, mind, and soul!