Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I take a look at 6 ways menopause can weaken the immune system.
I'm sure, for most of us, at the moment, the state of our immune system is at the top of our health list worries. And unfortunately, we know that several factors can impact our immune system, and during menopause, these things can sometimes have more of an impact than what we realise.
Our immune system is a very complex mechanism. Put very simply, our immune system helps to identify and eradicate invading pathogens and germs that would cause us some kind of infection.
How does menopause affect our immune system?
There are several factors during menopause that can impact your immunity, making you more suspectable to colds and flu and cause allergies like hayfever to worsen or even develop. These factors include your age, falling oestrogen and other menopause symptoms such as stress, poor sleep and fatigue, and also the health of your gut.
So let's take a closer look at these 6 factors:
There is a gland called the thymus, and it's involved in helping to support our immune system. And it is known that this gland can start to shrink a bit when we reach middle age. And if this gland is not working as well or as efficiently as it should do, then that can impact how strong our immune system is.
2. Falling oestrogen
In addition to age, studies have also shown that falling oestrogen itself can have a general impact on our immune system, making it just that little bit weaker all around.
One study, in particular, found that in postmenopausal women, changes in the immune system have been attributed to oestrogen deprivation.1
Studies have shown that ongoing stress or even mild, day-to-day stress can weaken how our immune system works.2 So, this is can be a huge factor especially since stress is a very common symptom during menopause.
To ease stress and lessen its impact on your immune system, it's really important to have that daily relaxation. Remember "me" time, 30 minutes every day can help with so many different menopause issues.
You could also look at stress remedies, such as our Stress Relief Daytime or AvenaCalm.
4. Poor sleep
Again, it's well known that if you don't get a good night's sleep, that will impact very, very quickly on immune function.
And in menopause, very often, it's not just having one bad night's sleep but this can go on for months and months. So, it's really important, if sleep is an issue, to try and get this one sorted.
You can look at a sleep remedy such as our Dormeasan Sleep Valerian-Hops oral drops, which help restore natural sleep.
You can also look to improve your sleep routine and sleep hygiene. How are you getting off to sleep? Are you looking at your computer or your phone late at night? Are you anxious before you sleep?
If you're having problems with night sweats disrupting your sleep, then you could look at our Menoforce sage tablets. And remember the magnesium, because magnesium is great for so many things in menopause, including helping to improve sleep quality, and taking a tablet with your evening meal can often give you a better night's sleep.
Fatigue is a very common menopause symptom. If we are tired, if we are fatigued, very often, we don't exercise, and exercise is vital for a healthy immune system.
Also, when we're fatigued, we tend not to eat particularly well. We tend to go for comfort foods and sugary foods to give us a bit of a lift. And again, a poor diet and lots of sugar will impact the immune system.
So, for this one, if you're tired all the time, maybe look at a gentle iron tonic. Just check your diet, too, to make sure that you're getting a nice, broad range of foods to give you all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs at this particular time.
6. Gut Health
Believe it or not, the state of your digestion will have an impact on your immune function. Your gut plays a key role in your immune system because it is thought that approx. 70%-80% of your immune function starts in the gut.
So, if you have a lot of digestive problems, which is common in menopause, or if you have a lack of friendly bacteria, then this is going to have a direct impact on how efficient your immune system is.
So, for this one, I would recommend taking a general probiotic for a month, every six months, just to make sure that your friendly bacteria are being well-supported here.
What else can support the immune system during menopause?
As well as addressing the above factors, there are lots of other things you can do to help support your immune system during menopause:
Immune-boosting vitamins and minerals
You can look at a vitamin and mineral supplement, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are all really important to help with supporting your immune system.
These three immune-supporting nutrients can be found in our one-a-day Immune Support tablets.
Helpful herbs & spices
If you feel a cold coming on, if you feel that you're coming down with the winter flu, then you could look at the herb echinacea. Our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops and Tablets are made from organically grown, fresh herb and root extracts of echinacea purpurea and help relieve the symptoms of cold & flu by strengthening the immune system.
You can also add lots of herbs and spices to your daily diet. Just a small amount every single day can help to boost immune function, so you can look at things like garlic, chili, turmeric, and even ginger can be a nice one. Ginger's a lovely, warming one as well.
Remember to drink plenty of water because dehydration can also have an negative impact on the strength of your immune system.
What to avoid
As I mentioned before, try and avoid sugar and avoid alcohol, too. Alcohol is known to suppress the immune response.
One study from the University of Maryland and Loyola University found that even a single episode of heavy drinking can significantly weaken the body's immune system.3
I hope you found this one helpful. If any of you out there have any other great tips to help support your immune system, then please do share them.
Key points to take away from this blog:
- There are several factors during menopause that can weaken your immune systems, key factors include your age, falling oestrogen, stress, poor sleep, fatigue, and your gut health
- There are lots of things you can do to lessen the impact of these factors and to give your immunity an extra boost
- Key things to do: Manage your stress, improve poor sleep, exercise regularly, support your friendly gut bacteria and boost your vitamin and mineral intake.
Until next week, take care