Stress, Perception & Our Immune System : The Biology of Belief 

Written by Denise Tam, Holistic Nutritionist

Newsflash, we are NOT victims of our genetics. When I was diagnosed with cancer a common question was, do you have a family history? When it relapsed, I even ordered some genetic testing. Though the results showed that I may be more susceptible to some toxins than others - like benzene gases, the difference is my response to these results.

You may have a string of genes in your family that increase your chances of cancer or high cholesterol etc, but the importance is what you do with this information. Genes don’t cause cancer, or diabetes, or high blood pressure, but it can be correlated to it. 

This is where epigenetics come into play. Epi, means above. Epigenetics means above gene control. So what influences epigenetics? Our minds, lifestyle  and behaviour patterns can control the expression of our genes.

The environment is an influence to our genes, but it also depends on your interpretation of the environment, like the placebo effect. For example, you may be afraid of dogs, and in an encounter with a dog, no matter how well trained or gentle the dog is, your every cell will send signals to your body that you are in danger. And every decision made, will be based on that perception, be it true or not. We can all agree that not all of our perceptions are true. However perception is belief. Our cells don’t know the difference, and it follows the perception.

As Dr Bruce Lipton, stem cell biologist says that

‘genes are controlled by the biology of belief. Change your belief and you can change your genes’.

Stress is the negative perception of our environment. And how stress is expressed biologically is a direct impact On our immune system.

It is said that stress causes over 90% of all diseases.  Stress is something that threatens you. And when your body feels threatened, say from a tiger, your body pushes all of the blood to your arms and legs for energy to run. If you happen to have eaten something wrong before encountering a tiger, the intelligence in you would still shut down blood flow from your gut and push it to your legs and arms to respond. The bacteria in your gut will need to wait. 

At the same time, we know that 70% of our immune cells live in our gut. So when our gut is compromised either by consistently bad food or from chronic stress that doesn’t allow healing in our gut, our immune system will eventually shut down. Stress doesn’t only shut down our immune system, it also makes us less intelligent. When your feeling threatened (ie. stressed), your body also increases blood flow to the part of the brain where you activate your reflexes, because in times of danger our consciousness is too slow, we need reflexes to save us. This works for a short time, but overtime we become the chronically stressed colleague, spouse or family member that lacks empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, self control - and frankly intelligence. Stress responses are supposed to be used for a short amount of time. But we now have stress hormones activated everytime we watch TV, listen to the radio, get on social media. Our world is under 24/7 stress and our system is not designed for this.

4 things to do to strengthen our immune system

1. Eat Well 

A recent JAMA study showed a direct correlation to poor diet and mortality in chronic diseases, yet we’re still not talking about good nutrition when tackling Covid. We’re still relying on vaccines and masks. Somehow nobody is talking about our diet, but perhaps it’s as Michael Moore suggested in his documentary that governments don’t want a healthy, intelligent population because they’re difficult to control. #foodforthought !

If the farmers are wearing a hazard suit to spray your crops you are eating, Why would you eat it? 

2. Supplements 

Supplements are needed. No matter how well you’re eating, the soil that our food is grown in is still void of nutrients. You may eat ‘clean’ but may not be eating ‘nutrient dense’. Nutrients are simply missing in our food. For immunity, vitamin C, D and zinc are crucial and these are always included in my daily supplements. I take 2g of Vitamin C daily along with a multivitamin that includes 30mg of Zinc and 2000 IU of Vitamin D. In the midst of COVID or a flu season I top up my Vitamin D to around 3000-5000IU. Sambu Guard is also a great and tasty drink that can be refreshing and immune boosting at the same time with echinacea, elderberry and Vitamin C.

3. Exercise

Exercise strengthens our circulatory system. It helps our system run better. When our blood is flowing, our organs work better and things get cleaned, cleared and regenerated. This is why in Chinese medicine, Qi is so important and why there’s the saying 通則不疼 (there’s no pain if it flows). 

4. Stress levels

Your stress levels are a direct compromise to your immune system. Not all countries have the same comorbidities oftentimes because of lifestyle habits and stress levels. We must address our stress levels if we’re looking to strengthen our immune system and optimise our health. 

Below are my top nutrients to support stress response :

Vitamin B Complex 

An interesting study on Vitamin B complex and work stress showed that an administration of Vitamin B complex over 90 days contributed to lower personal strain and reduction in confusion, depression and ‘dejected mood’.


Magnesium can help mitigate the effects of stress, whilst stress can increase  magnesium loss creating a vicious cycle, according to this research study. Therefore, magnesium is truly a master mineral when it comes to health and wellbeing. A daily intake of 250-500mg of magnesium glycinate or gluconate,  more highly absorbable form of magnesium can help you sleep better and function better the next day.

Ashwagandha & Rhodiola

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both adaptogenic herbs that can help reduce the effects of stress. Ashwagandha root has several human studies showing its positive stress relieving effects. Rhodiola has similar studies and is used more for energy and stamina, where ashwagandha can also benefit those who have trouble sleep


Stressveda is a unique blend of clinical researched ashwagandha root with plant based natural Vitamin B sourced from guava, holy basil and lemons.


  • Helps to relieve symptoms of stress, nervous tension and mental fatigue
  • Contributes to normal mental performance
  • Contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system
  • Protects cells from oxidative stress
  • Supports fertility and sexual health

A unique Ashwagandha extract (KSM-66®)

  • Made from organic roots grown in India
  • Extracted using traditional Ayurvedic practices, and registered trademarked Ashwaghanda root
  • Clinically proven to reduce stress and support cognition

Plant based B-vitamins

  • Sourced from organic guava, holy basil and lemons
  • Includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate
  • Key nutrients for nervous system function, enzyme production and metabolism


Each capsule contains: RDA %

KSM-66® Ashwagandha extract

(standardized to 5% withanolides)……….600 mg N/A

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)……….0.60 mg 54%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)……….0.55 mg 39%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)……….0.93 mg 5.8%

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)……….1.04 mg 17.4%

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)……….1.4 mg 43%

Folic Acid……….19.18 mcg 9.6%


The sleep stress immunity connection

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