It’s well established that the health of your immune system has a direct impact on your physical health. But did you know that it can also affect your mental health? The immune system and mental health are connected in many ways. The immune system helps to protect the body from infection and disease, while the mental health system helps to keep the mind healthy and functioning properly. When one is not working properly, it can affect the other. Here are seven ways that your immune system can benefit your mental health:
- Improved mood: A healthy immune system can improve your mood by reducing inflammation throughout the body. Studies have shown that people with depression and anxiety tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies. This has led researchers to believe that inflammation may play a role in the development and progression of mental illness. While the exact mechanisms are not yet known, it is thought that inflammation may contribute to mental illness by affecting brain function and neurotransmission. Inflammation has also been linked to changes in the structure and function of the brain regions involved in mood regulation. Inflammation has been linked to depression and anxiety, so by reducing inflammation, you can improve your mood and feel happier overall.
- Reduced stress levels: A healthy immune system can help reduce stress levels by fighting off infections and keeping you healthy. When you are sick, your body releases stress hormones which can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. By staying healthy, you can avoid these stressful situations and maintain lower stress levels overall.
- Better sleep: A healthy immune system can promote better sleep by helping to fight off infections that may cause insomnia or disrupt sleep patterns. Additionally, when you are well-rested, your body is better able to fight off illness and infection. This is because when you are well rested, your immune system is stronger and can more effectively fight off bacteria and viruses. Additionally, when you are well rested, your body has more energy to devote to fighting off infection. If your immune system is strong then you will be less likely to get sick in the first place, further promoting a virtuous cycle of good sleep and good health.
- Increased energy levels: A healthy immune system leads to increased energy levels because it helps the body function optimally. When all systems are working properly, including the digestive and circulatory systems, we have more energy overall. This boost in energy can lead to improved productivity at work or school as well as increased motivation for physical activity or other hobbies outside of school or work life balance activities. When we engage in regular physical activity, our bodies release chemicals that can improve our mood and make us feel more relaxed. Exercise also helps to reduce stress levels, as well as improve sleep quality and quantity. All of these benefits lead to a healthier mindset. Physical activity has been shown to be especially beneficial for people who are struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. So if you’re looking for a way to boost your mood and improve your overall mental health, start incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. You don’t have to join a gym or go on long runs – even moderate amounts of physical activity can make a difference. Just get up and move your body for 30 minutes every day, and you’ll start reaping the rewards of a healthier mindset!
- Improved cognitive function: Healthy individuals tend not only to think clearer but also faster than their unhealthy counterparts. Several studies on hospital patients found those with sepsis (a serious complication from an infection) had significantly impaired brain function compared to those without sepsis. Another study showed people who took probiotics (“good” bacteria supplements) daily for four weeks performed better on memory tests than those who didn’t take probiotics. Because a strong immunity helps protect against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, it follows that a robust defense would also benefit the brain – our control center for the entire body.
The link between our immune systems and mental health might sound intimidating if you already struggle with either one of these aspects of life. However, it can also be seen as a great opportunity to improve your health in a novel way! Maybe you never realized that eating healthier or exercising is actually a great way to make you less stressed. If you’ve been struggling with mental health, it could be a good idea to talk to your doctor about ways to improve your immune system!