With a global pandemic spreading across continents, we’ve been thrown into collective survival mode. Unfortunately, this stress-filled state can have serious negative impacts on your health and wellbeing—unless you do something about it.
As an integrative, holistic physician, one of my driving goals is to empower you to shift from stress-based survival mode, to a state where you’re able to transform, heal, and truly thrive. Because if there’s one thing I’ve observed again and again during 30+ years of clinical practice, it’s this: Your innate survival drive, rooted in the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system, won’t actually help you live a longer, healthier life.
Ironically, “survival mode” does just the opposite—fueling inflammation and organ damage, driving disease processes, and suppressing immune function.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to transform this stress-based response and in the process, unleash greater healing potential.
In this article, I’ll be sharing some evidence-based, practice-tested tools that can help quiet your biochemical alarm system, optimize your immune function, and achieve greater health and vitality. These strategies are based on extensive research, and importantly, success I’ve seen helping countless others facing even more difficult circumstances.
The shift from survival mode to a state of thriving vitality, takes place on many levels—mental, emotional, physical—all the way down to your DNA. And while it may seem complicated, it can be easier than you think—regardless of the challenges you face.
Deactivating the Alarm to Reduce Stress and Balance the Immune System
In my opens in a new windowlast article, I shared some vital information about balancing your immune responses to help prevent the cytokine storm that’s proving to be so dangerous in viral infections.
As we explored in that article, one of the most important aspects of regulating and optimizing your immune system, is to control the master alarm protein, Galectin-3.
Like a power switch for a complex alarm system, Galectin-3 in the body is activated in response to stress—physical, mental, emotional—and in turn, triggers a cascade of inflammatory signals and reactions.
This can be important to allow a swift and efficient response to danger—as long as the alarm turns off when the threat has passed. The problem is, when you’re actually under (or even just perceive) ongoing or intense stress, the Galectin-3 alarm stays elevated on high alert, fueling a constant surge of inflammatory cell messengers (cytokines) and other damaging compounds.
The results? Immune suppression, cytokine storms and sepsis, cancer progression and metastasis, and runaway inflammation and fibrosis leading to organ failure, premature aging, and much more.1
As shown in thousands of studies, controlling Galectin-3 is a fundamental strategy for long-term wellness and vitality. Let’s take a look at these proven strategies, and how they can benefit other areas of health as well.
Mind-Body Galectin-3 Connection to Reduce Stress
Research on Galectin-3 is growing fast, expanding into every area—including mental health. One important clinical study showed that elevated Galectin-3 can fuel symptoms of depression.2 Other studies show chronic inflammation plays a significant role in mental health imbalances. Since Galectin-3 drives chronic inflammation, we may expect to see more results of this kind as the research evolves.
Another groundbreaking clinical study on Galectin-3 had even more remarkable results related to mental health and wellbeing. This particular study showed that regular meditation and other mind-body relaxation practices—like listening to music—immediately lowered circulating Galectin-3 levels…even after one session.3
Reducing stress and calming your biochemical alarm system using meditation and mind-
body methods can make a significant difference in preventing damage from elevated Galectin-3, while boosting immune function in other ways as well. I’ve seen these benefits repeatedly in my clinical practice, and in meditation workshops and retreats over the years.
But the reality is, not everyone can simply meditate their stress away—at least in the beginning.
After all, how do you reduce stress when you’re facing a dangerous threat? Telling someone with a grave diagnosis to simply relax and think positively, is like telling someone who’s house is on fire to just stay calm and breathe in the smoke from their burning home. I call it “the catch 22 of positive thinking”.
As a meditation practitioner and teacher who has been studying mind-body medicine for decades, my advice for beginning your meditation practice is this: Start slowly with simple opens in a new windowmeditation exercises that can be done anywhere, and leave your expectations behind. Most important is to practice compassion toward yourself and others. This compassion can help power and protect your journey toward greater health and wellness. In time and with regular meditation practice, you may notice that your mind and emotions become clearer and calmer, like a pool whose waters have settled and are now crystal clear.
Meditation offers a wealth of benefits for immune health, cognitive function and mental wellbeing, cardiovascular wellness, and much more. It even works to support favorable gene expression related to numerous key areas of health.
But there’s another proven way to control Galectin-3—and in doing so, improve immune function, reduce inflammation and organ damage, and support a more relaxed state of being.
How? With Galectin-3 blocker opens in a new windowModified Citrus Pectin.
The Most-Researched Galectin-3 Blocker
I’ve been using Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) with my patients for over two decades and have seen first-hand the transformative benefits of this simple, natural ingredient. Extensive published data mirror these clinical observations, showing broad-spectrum benefits in improving immune function, promoting healthy cognitive function, fighting cancer, and supporting the treatment of numerous inflammatory conditions.4
Because of its powerful ability to control the inflammation caused by Galectin-3, MCP is also shown in studies to support mental health and cognitive function.5 In fact, I often recommend MCP to my patients as a starting point to help reduce inflammatory stress, while actively addressing the underlying factors driving their condition. By deactivating the master alarm Galectin-3, MCP can help shift you from survival mode on multiple levels—mental, emotional, and physical.
With all that’s going on right now, stress, fear and uncertainty are natural, normal responses. But it doesn’t mean you have to succumb to them and allow these reactions to dictate our health. By mastering our biochemical alarm system, through mind-body methods, natural agents, and other evidence-based approaches, we can effectively move from a state of survival and stress, to a place of greater healing and vitality.
In my next article, I’ll be sharing some additional strategies you can adopt to support optimal immunity and achieve greater health from multiple angles.
- Laura Díaz-Alvarez and Enrique Ortega. The Many Roles of Galectin-3, a Multifaceted Molecule, in Innate Immune Responses against Pathogens. Mediators of Inflammation. 2017(8):1-10.
- Melin EO, Dereke J, Thunander M, Hillman M. Depression in type 1 diabetes was associated with high levels of circulating galectin-3. Endocr Connect. 2018 Jun;7(6):819-828. doi: 10.1530/EC-18-0108.
- Dal Lin C, Marinova M, Rubino G, et al. Thoughts modulate the expression of inflammatory genes and may improve the coronary blood flow in patients after a myocardial infarction. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017;8(1):150–163.
- Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11).
- Ma S, Li S, Lv R, Hou X, Nie S, Yin Q. Prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with serum Galectin-3 level [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 20]. J Diabetes Investig. 2020;10.1111/jdi.13256. doi:10.1111/j