Midlife and menopause can drain your immune system. Did you know that?
The ‘natural’ hormonal changes that happen in midlife can also lead to your immune system becoming more vulnerable. Yay us!! The last few months I’ve been researching and learning and with the help of both my gynecologist and functional provider, we’re all fixing my hormones and simultaneously, my immune system.
The human body (especially the female kind) is amazing. We are gifted with natural mechanisms to fight off germs and potentially harmful foreign bodies. Things like eyelashes and nose hairs and stomach acids keep our insides free from contamination.
During this COVID-19 roller coaster, I’ve been surprised that social media hasn’t helped more with this kind of information. Instead, all the talk has been on finding a vaccine.
Newsflash! Unless you are actually a research scientist, your control over this process of creating a new vaccine is basically zero. We’re at the mercy of such talented people.
So, instead of fixating our overloaded brains on something that we have absolutely no control over, why don’t we do something productive and helpful, like boosting our own immunity. Like now. Before the autumn flu season drops.
Here’s an interesting and newly found truth I’ve discovered. Your hormones affect EVERYTHING. When they’re out of whack, all of your other bodily systems can suffer. This includes your immune system. If you’re menopausal, have you noticed that you seem to get colds more easily? Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s? Now you know why.
It’s just my luck that all of this COVID-19 stuff fell into the world at exactly the time when I decided to get my menopause hormones under control. I’ve learned about the importance of gut health and eating and the things I can do to to boost my own immunity.
And I’m talking about more than just wearing a mask and social distancing.
Menopause hormones can drain the immune system.
“What?” you’re asking. “Why?”
Ok, here’s the short version. Jump over here for more info on menopause. During menopause estrogen decreases in relation to progesterone and cortisol can rise. The imbalance of these hormones as they shift is what causes all our menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, and weight gain, and sleepless nights. It’s this imbalance that makes us crazy.
I’d love to send you my free printable Menopause Foods: What to Eat and Avoid! Just shoot me your email at the end of this post.
Can I just say that no one invited Miss Cortisol to my party? Like the unwanted and unruly guest at the college shindig, she overstays her welcome and trashes the place. Ugh. Cortisol is responsible for your new menopause tummy and lying wide awake in bed at 3am. Ugh.
Let me add one more thing. Besides crazy estrogen and progesterone levels, stress can also throw off your cortisol levels. And we’ve had a very calm 2020, right?
I’ve been working with a functional provider for nearly 6 months to get my hormones under control. She tells me that this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re like me, it will take time to figure out your levels, and if (and how much) HRT is best for you. She’s had lots of new patients because of all of the COVID stress added to our lives.
I wish I knew why all these changes happen in our midlife years. I guess this is the trade-off for the diminishing capacity for making babies. But, now that we know, we can be ready!!
So, today I’m offering some more advice than just washing your hands.
Wash your hands. Oh, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard those words since March! We’re actually making new habits these days, which is good. We’re more conscious of ‘germy hands’ now.
You guys know this. Your menopause body needs you to move it! Exercise gets your blood pumping and your body working. Walking is fantastic for us meno babes. There’s lots of yoga programs on the internet that you can access in your living room.
Besides your helping your body, exercise boosts your mental state as well. Your brain generates endorphins (the feel good juice) that help your general state of mind. So, find some time to get outside and take a walk around the block (and yes, mask up if you need to). Your immunity will thank you.
2. Shed that excess weight.
Well we’ve been sitting a WHOLE lot the last few months. Ugh.
Let me just tell you, if your hormones have gone berserk this may be more difficult than you think. Until you figure those out, work on moving your body and eating correctly. Extra weight prevents your heart from working optimally, as well as your other organs.
If you’re carrying around a lot of extra weight, start out by seeing your doctor. Get a complete physical to check everything out first.
Temperatures are milder now. Use these more pleasant days to add a walk around the block to your daily habits. If you’re really adventurous, leave your phone at home!
3. Reduce stress.
I know, I know. How do you reduce stress in the age of COVID when our worlds have literally been turned upside down. Take one day at a time. Control what you can control. Be a master of ‘reconfiguring’. (On a side note, we had a GPS when we lived in Germany that would say she was ‘reconfiguring’ when we made a wrong turn. It became a family joke.)
It seems the daily news drives us now. We search for new COVID numbers or mask mandates, or even public closings. And now there’s even a heated presidential election season. If these things produce anxiety in your soul, turn them all off and instantly eliminate some of your stress.
Do canceled plans make you crazy? Mamas, you can reconfigure when you need to. Drive on, around, over, or through the obstacles. Remember that all we have is today. Today’s problems, today’s tasks, today’s hours.
Finally, make it your goal every day to find some joy. What gives your heart a lift? Some fresh cut flowers from the grocery store? A warm slice of zucchini bread from your oven? A new novel to allow your mind to escape for a bit?
Find a piece of joy in your daily routines. Like I said earlier, we’re making new routines these days, right? Why not add in some simple joy habits to the mix as well?
4. Drink green tea.
Besides lots of water, which helps to keep ‘things’ regular within your body, green tea is another magic beverage that helps to boost immunity.
Green tea contains a compound called EGCG, a polyphenol, which seems to increase production of regulatory T-cells in the body. These help to jump start the immune system’s response to invaders such as cold and flu germs.
5. Take vitamin C, D and Zinc.
Guess what? Vitamin D is actually a hormone. Yep. And odds are, just like the rest of your midlife hormones, your levels are decreasing as you age. My own doctor found my deficiency years ago. Vitamin D is your friend! And it’s also VERY important for your immune health.
You know you need Vitamin C daily. Admit it. You can still remember the taste of your Flintstones chewables. Vitamin C is not stored in your system so make sure your foods are providing your daily allowance.
A new supplement that we’ve been hearing more about lately in the endless COVID news cycles is Zinc. Evidence is mounting that zinc may help prevent the binding of viruses (such as the cold virus and COVID-19) to the nasal muscosa. You can get zinc losenges like Airborne over-the-counter.
6. Focus on your gut flora.
Your immune system is essentially your digestive system. Actually your digestive system is the engine of your body. When it gets all ‘gunked up’ with fast food and sugar, it slows down all the other systems in your body.
The food you eat, literally the fuel of your life, literally has the ability to clean out your engine and keep it running its best. Sometimes your engine can use a little help and adjustment. Enter the world of probiotics,
There are so many probiotics available these days. Check them out at your local health food store. Some require refrigeration, some do not. Check with your doctor to determine which gut flora might be most beneficial to you.
7. Cut out smoking and/or excessive alcohol.
Smoking is bad, bad for COVID-19. Unless you’ve been hanging out on Mars the last few months, you know that this new virus affects your breathing and oxygen processing. Your doctor can provide options to help you with smoking cessation.
Likewise, too much alcohol on a regular basis throws your regular bodily systems out of whack. It works against you in your quest to ramp up your immune system.
Ok, my sweet friends! We all know that 2020 has been insanely crazy. The craziest. The end is coming. We’ve got holidays to plan for and look forward to. Let’s buck up and use these milder early autumn days to get our midlife immunity ramped up and ready for cold and flu……..and COVID-19 season.
Get outside while you can in the cooler temperatures. Soak up the sun and vitamin D while you walk and shed your stress. Make it a daily effort to chase joy and a laugh or two. Revise your habits (if you need to) to include lots of fruits and vegetables and plenty of water, and rest.
You can be ready for whatever germs come your way!
Don’t forget to sign up for free access to my Resource Library below. In it you will find Menopause Foods: What to Eat and Avoid plus many other printables and goodies for your midlife adventure.