I come from a strong Gene pool of TYPE A personalities… It is the running joke that my family is in constant COMPETITION of who is more Type A — Ironic, eh? As we all pretend to be less controlling and TYPE A than we really are, we still strive to be efficient and effective with everything we do, and point fingers at the others for being more “controlling and relentless”.
With this great need for “achievement” comes a constant level of STRESS
For the longest time, I thought life was about getting from Point A to Point B regardless of the Stress and Pressure it involved. That’s what gets you into college, gets you a higher pay check, etc. Right? And for the longest time, I felt like I was “above” the need to control the Stress involved because it wasn’t effecting me like everyone else — or so I thought! Then, “life happened” and I realized I wasn’t invincible… Eventually your body and mind will say, “NO MORE!”
Do you have to be Type A to be under Chronic Stress?
No! With how busy life is in general nowadays — Kids, finances, heightened use of iPhones and need for immediate responses — It is really difficult to not succumb to constant stressors. We are constantly on our toes and ready for the next crisis. And even when nothing is wrong, the BEEEP from your iPhone, telling you that you have a new text, sends a signal to our brain that we must respond immediately!
What is Stress?
Stress is suppose to prepare us for an “attack” by the lions, tigers and bears! It is suppose to be used only for short term. Stress starts in your head with a worry or a fear or anxiety. When you feel stressed, your body physically changes and ramps up production of the stress hormones Cortisol, Adrenaline, and Norepinephrine. As it is doing so, it shuts down Digestion — who needs to eat when they are running from the tigers, right?
Adrenaline, for instance, increases your heart rate, causing your heart to beat faster and ultimately raising Blood Pressure. Cortisol can interfere with the function of the inner lining of your blood vessels, triggering plaque buildup in your arteries, and increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Meanwhile, you brain communicates with your GUT, sending the news that you’re stressed, and your gut responds in suit, altering what it would normally be doing — shuts off digestion and gets into “fight or flight” mode.
This stress response can be quite beneficial if you need to run from a predator, or even quickly cram for a big exam. Things get messy, however, when you can’t let go of that chronic stress — It is a recipe for disease and illness…
What Happens When You’re Chronically Stressed?
In the video above, Emory University professor of medicine Sharon Bergquist shows what happens in your body when you’re under chronic stress.
The stress is triggering systemic low-grade Inflammation, and suddenly your Blood Pressure is up, your Asthma is flaring, and you keep getting colds. As I have mentioned before, INFLAMMATION is the cause of ALL DISEASE.
You’re having trouble sleeping and, emotionally you are “Burned out”. Then, Weight Gain follows, whether you are increasing caloric intake or not, and digestion starts to suffer — Gas, Bloat, Constipation, Acid Reflux. Even your Libido is suffering.
Stress clearly affects your whole body
The following are the most common health conditions that are caused by or worsened by stress:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Infertility and irregular cycles
- Frequent colds
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Appetite changes
- Digestive problems and dysbiosis
I’m Stressed, but What Does that Have To Do With My Gut and Weight?
In the Gut, stress causes the following:
- Decreased nutrient absorption
- Decreased oxygenation to your gut
- As much as four times less blood flow to your digestive system, which leads to a Slower Metabolism
- Decreased enzymatic output in your gut as much as 20,000-fold- You can’t breakdown food!
- WITHOUT INCREASING FOOD, YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT WHEN STRESSED
Your GUT and Your BRAIN Are in Direct Communication
One reason why your mental stress can be detrimental to your gut is because your gut and your brain are in regular communication. Ever wonder why you feel “nauseous” when you are worried or stressed? Why that sense of a “GUT FEELING” is usually right? And, why certain foods effect your mood? Why we reach for “comfort foods” or why certain foods evoke a negative feeling?
Your Gut has signaling that is directly connected to the Brain and visa versa.
This communication between your “two brains” runs both ways, and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood or why anxiety can make you sick to your stomach, for instance. Under stress, bad bacteria or bugs can leak through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation and chronic infections/disease.
Your Brain and Your Heart Suffer When You’re Stressed
Prolonged stress can also damage your brain cells and make you lose the capacity to remember things. The brain cells of stressed rats are dramatically smaller, especially in the area of their hippocampus, which is the home of learning and memory.
Stress disrupts your neuroendocrine and immune systems, and appears to trigger a degenerative process in your brain that can result in Alzheimer’s disease. Stress-induced Weight Gain is also real, and typically involves an increase in belly fat, which is the most dangerous fat for your body to accumulate, and increases your cardiovascular risk.
During moments of high stress, your body releases hormones such as norepinephrine, which can even cause the dispersal of bacterial biofilms from the walls of your arteries. This dispersal can allow plaque deposits to suddenly break loose, thereby triggering a heart attack.
Plus, when stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes increasingly desensitized to cortisol, and since Inflammation is partly regulated by this hormone, this decreased sensitivity heightens the Inflammatory response and allows Inflammation to get out of control. Chronic Inflammation is a hallmark of heart disease and many chronic diseases.
So is the Blood Pressure Medication helping with the CAUSE of Heart Attack Risks? No. But Stress Management will…
That’s all Fine, but Now What? How Do I Overcome Stress?
My personal “Go To” Stress Relievers are:
- Take Keto — Improves the Gaba and Seratonin in the Brain and helps me really assess what is important in my life. Boosts Mood and reduces Stress. This has changed my life and my ability to manage Stress.
- Walking outside in the fresh air. Nature is the best medicine!
- One minute of deep breathing in and out of the nose, imagining the oxygen reaching the back of the brain.
- Yoga. In short, it has changed my life.
- Ashwagandha. It promotes a healthy response to stress. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it promotes a healthy stress response. It helps reduce the negative effects of stress on our health and happiness.
- Rebuild Your Gut. Kill the Nasty Bugs with Flora Balance and Populate it with the Good bugs with 50 Billion FloraMax Probiotic. This helps increase Seratonin in the Brain, and eliminates the Gut related issues from Stress. Remember, the GUT IS YOUR 2ND BRAIN.
- True Calm. When you need an Immediate Stress Reliever, True Calm helps calm your system down.
- Calm Spirit. For those who are stressed and running “HOT” consistently.
- Calm Ezz. Helps relieve Anxiety immediately.
- Surround yourself by the people that Lift you Up and eliminate the “toxic” people in your life…
- SLEEP. Sleep deprivation dramatically impairs your body’s ability to handle stress.
- Exercise. You don’t have to be a marathoner. Just start moving.
- Meditate. If you haven’t done it, try following an APP called Stop, Breathe, Think. It is appropriate for kids and Adults! My kids use this all of the time and love it! You will be shocked at how your body responds.