Four ways that stress destroys your health
We're all under stress from time to time, but when the stress becomes ongoing and chronic, it can get to the point where it threatens your health or even you’re LIFE.
So it's nothing to take lightly.
Here are four of the most serious physical prices of chronic stress, as well as ways you can fight back and minimize its harmful and deadly effects:
Adrenal burnout (aka adrenal fatigue)
When your body gears up to deal with stress, your adrenal glands produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output and carbohydrate metabolism, and cortisol directs the necessary energy to your brain and muscles that they need to respond to the stress.
Once the stress passes, your adrenaline level drops quickly, but cortisol remains high to refuel your body and bring it back to balance—and it does so by increasing your appetite.
When your stress is temporary and short-lived, this is fine, but the problem arises when you have chronic stress because cortisol levels stay high.
This can cause you to "stress eat"—especially sugars and refined carbs—because the cortisol is repeatedly signaling you to refuel. That means you pack on the pounds.
Elevated cortisol can also lead to depressed immune function, low thyroid function, problems with blood sugar control (increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes) and eventually adrenal burnout.
Signs of adrenal burnout include loss of sleep, dark under eye circles, menstrual problems, feelings of grogginess, extreme exhaustion after exercise, and joint and muscle stiffness and achiness.
Chronic stress can also lead to an inflammation of the stomach called gastritis.
Its symptoms are similar to acid reflux or an ulcer and can include:
Gut problems and impaired immune function
The "brain-gut axis" is a network of chemical and electrical signals that continuously pass between the central nervous system (the brain) and the digestive system. Since there's such a profound, close relationship between the two, chronic psychological stress can make you physically sick.
For example, stress is a major factor in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms and can worsen the symptoms of colitis and Crohn's disease.
Stress also causes your gut to become hypersensitive, which can trigger food allergies and sensitivities.
In addition, stress causes the protective mucosal barrier inside your intestines to become less effective at defending your body against dangerous bacteria and pathogens.
So you are much more susceptible to catching viruses and infections when under chronic stress.
Stress can trigger inflammation, which is a leading factor behind many chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, chronic back pain, premature aging, and our two main killers--heart disease and cancer.
How to fight back
First and foremost, it's important to reduce and eliminate as much stress from your life as you can. Regular exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, counseling, prayer, and even adopting a pet can help.
But since stress will always be a part of our lives, it's essential to give your body the support it needs too!
1- Get your Zzzzz's
Make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Proper rest is crucial for your mind and body to regenerate.
Even if you're very stressed out and can't fall asleep right away, just lying in your bed in a dark room is helpful and encourages melatonin production.
2- Support sound digestion
Efficient digestion is vital for proper nutrient absorption and can help eradicate the symptoms of stress-induced gastritis and other GI problems.
Unfortunately, many stressed people are eating on the go—lots of nutrient-poor, fast and processed foods. Plus our typical meal combinations are very taxing on our bodies, and roll out the red carpet for indigestion and gut aches!
Step one is to avoid fast foods and processed junk, and instead, make the time to cook real foods. It's just as easy to sauté a chicken breast and dump a bagged salad into a bowl as it is to cook a frozen pizza.
Make the effort—your health and life are worth it.
And to make your meals easier on your system, avoid combining animal proteins (like meat) and starches (like potatoes, rice or pasta) in the same meal. Instead pair meats OR starches with vegetables and tossed salads.
I guarantee you'll be shocked at the difference in your digestion.
3- Support your friendly gut flora
Stress takes a tremendous toll on your gut microbes, so it's essential to help repopulate your supply of beneficial, illness-fighting bacteria with a top-quality probiotic
4- Keep inflammation low
One of the best ways to keep inflammation low is to embrace the power of Nature's own anti-inflammatory—Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
And an outstanding fish oil formula can provide a health-supporting dose of these crucial nutrients.
Stress is all around us and it's not going away anytime soon.
But when you support your body and help it fight the effects of stress, you are taking giant steps toward maintaining a strong state of health into your golden years.
PPS; please do not make any changes to your diet or take supplements before you discuss with your Doctor.
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