Prior to perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps all of your hormones in balance, which keeps your body functioning as it should. Your hormones regulate all of the functions of your body.
During menopause, your hormone levels start to fluctuate and change. Basically, estrogen decreases by 35% and progesterone decreases by 75%. Both hormones decrease, but the balance changes. This alters the balance of all of your hormones and this has an affect on all of your body functions.
Major hormones like insulin and thyroid hormones, which regulates your digestive system and your metabolism respectively, affect your immune system. The hormones that have the biggest affect on your immune system system are estrogen and cortisol.
Many studies have examined the affect that falling estrogen levels has on the immune system during menopause. The findings of these studies are conclusive. Falling estrogen levels weakens the immune system during menopause.
Cortisol has a big affect on your immune system because it plays a major role in fighting disease. It is an anti-inflammatory. As such, it counteracts germs, bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that cause disease.
Cortisol has another function. When you experience stress, your body automatically goes into a hardwired inbuilt survival mechanism called “fight or flight”. It produces increased amounts of the cortisol. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream to give you the energy you need to combat the threat. It also curbs functions in your body that are nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation….like your metabolic system, immune system and digestive system etc.
This “fight or flight” response was developed as a short term response mechanism to enhance your survival. After a real threat has been dealt with, cortisol levels return to their pre-threat levels and your other body functions normalize.
Menopause is a time of persistent stress. Persistent stress causes the adrenal gland, which produces cortisol, to become fatigued …. because of the continuous high demand for cortisol. As a result, the adrenal gland produces insufficient cortisol to counteract disease and allergy causing organisms.
How to strengthen your immune system during menopause
There has been limited research into the functioning of the immune system, in general. However, scientists think that the immune system is enhanced by following a healthy lifestyle.
More is known about the functioning of your immune system during menopause and what to do to strengthen it. Here is what to do
- re-balance your hormones – as hormonal imbalance weakens your immune system during menopause, re-balancing your hormones will strengthen it. It will also reduce your menopause symptoms. The first step toward re-balancing your hormones is to get the current levels of your hormones tested
- healthy diet – all the experts agree that your health prospects are enhanced by following a healthy diet. While research has yet to confirm that this will enhance your immune system, it makes sense that it will. It will also help to reduce your menopause symptoms. The healthiest diet is one based on real food. Real food is unprocessed meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables
- exercise – all the experts agree that your health prospects are improved by regular exercise. Like following a healthy diet, it makes sense that regular exercise will boost your immune system, even though this has not yet been confirmed by researchers. It will also help to reduce your menopause symptoms
- meditate or do yoga regularly. Any type of meditation, or yoga, will reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath etc for an extended period of time. In so doing, your breathing slows down and your stress and cortisol level falls
These are the steps to take to reduce your risk of allergies and to boost your immune system during menopause.