We are living in a time of great stress, there's no getting around that fact. It is taking a toll on our health in HUGE ways, and we need to do something about it. We've all been under prolonged and excessive stress and our health has been affected!
There's no getting away from hearing about this years political campaigns and all the crisis's we are facing. It is disturbing to many. Our politicians and political system has left us wondering if we are truly even SAFE. Our police, who are supposed to protect us, are even living in fear and reacting too quickly making terrible mistakes. Yes, our water, our food, our air, our bodies, our minds are ALL being filled with toxins and negative energy.
Today’s stresses are mainly hidden stress, such as mental worry, tension, fear, anxiety, emotional stress, financial stress, we even have media stress and societal stress! Toxins, poor dietary choices, micro-organisms, and EMF stress from electronic equipment, cellphone towers, satellites, etc. can create hidden stress. Are you an over-achiever? I’m referring to the go-getters, drivers, leaders, and high functioning achievers. They can be very out-going, seem to thrive on stress and success. But many of us are just trying to get ahead or stay afloat! So how does this all effect us individually?
Are you tired, not sleeping great? Can't relax from tension and worry? Feeling Depressed? How's your digestion been? Gaining belly fat, hard to loose weight? Aging too quickly? Aches and pains? Perhaps you realize it is time to learn more about the effects of stress and see what you can do to support your body and calm your mind!
There's a cascading effect that occurs as the body utilizes more metabolic resources and energy to respond to the imposed threat, and leaves less resources available for our regular functions of rest, renew, repair, digest, and sleep.
Even our youth are under tremendous stress these days. On top of it, they are easily addicted to stimulating energy drinks, sugar, junk food, electronic devices, thriller movies, dare devil acts, and anything that provides an 'adrenaline rush!'. At first it can be exhilarating, but we are now seeing many young people coming up with adrenal exhaustion as early as their teens and 20's!
“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” Hans Selye (1907-1982)
Dr. Hans Seyle was an Austrian/Canadian endocrinologist who conducted extensive research on stress and it’s effect on the body. This quote summarizes his belief on how stress affects the human body by aging and other natural body responses that occur when we encounter various stresses in our daily lives. There are several stages of stress and how it affects us.
Learn the signs and cascade of effects from stress:
Our Sympathetic nervous system kicks in and stress hormones are flooded into the body, like adrenaline, cortisol, and epinephrine. Our body will turn any glycogen into glucose (sugar) for quick energy. Our ability to digest well and eliminate decrease during this time as we are triggered into survival mode. Our immune system and ability to repair and renew ourselves diminishes. Many free-radicals are produced and quickens the aging process.
Your blood sugar can become difficult to control. Many people experience hypoglycemia and insulin resistance, which are precursors to hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
Chronic digestive problems occur and no matter how many supplements you take to try to correct it, until you relax the stress response, it does not have enough metabolic resources available to digest properly. You MUST reduce the stress response!
All the endocrine glands can be pulled down in their ability to function well to create hormonal balance. Sluggish metabolism occurs, weight gain in the form of belly fat is produced by too much cortisol in the system. The thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, and adrenal glands may need to be supported as well.
Circulation can become a challenge as stress tears occur in the endothelial lining of the arteries which can create more plaque. Our nitric oxide production is decreased, our ATP or energy production of our cells is reduced. We can have more pain, inflammation, and feel more fatigued. Stress increases our risk for heart disease.
Immune Function decreases, which can result in easily catching colds, flu’s, sinus and respiratory conditions, and taking a long time to recover from them. Our bodies create more free-radicals and the adrenals have a hard time fighting inflammation. You may find yourself more prone to ailments.
Sexual dysfunction and the sex hormones can become a problem for both men and women as well! Your body is designed to help you, so it will reduce circulation to the reproductive organs first as they are not vital to life! Both your desire and your ability can be diminished. Testosterone and DHEA hormones can be greatly reduced.
There IS Something You Can Do!
Learn about the health damaging effects of stress and how it can AGE your body! De-stressing your life and your body is essential! But HOW do we relax the stress response and return to a normal homeostasis? A healthy, adrenal friendly diet is essential, good quality supplements that are right for your needs, as well as some programs that can change the way you respond to stress and learn to relax your thoughts and reactions are important for continued success. It can take anywhere from a few months to 2 years to rebalance the body after adrenal stress, fatigue and exhaustion stages occur.
Meditation, deep breathing, spending time in nature are ALL important practices we should incorporate into our daily lives. Even a few minutes spent concentrating on deepening the breathe has an immediate affect on our nervous system. Balance your use of electronics with walks out in nature. Turn OFF your TV, and limit your daily scrolling and searching to short periods as it is over stimulating to the brain and nervous system. You can easily use some guided meditation tapes, such as Zen 12 Meditations or iAwake, to help you get into a calm, meditative state quickly and easily.
Take Your Vitamins! When we are stressed we are burning up more nutrients. Did you know that a high potency B-Complex daily helps us to deal with stress much better and keeps us balanced. (You may need the methylated B-vitamins!) Magnesium is also essential for a healthy nervous system, best taken before bed. Trace minerals help us in so many ways to stay hydrated, increase cognition, and more. Vitamins A, D, and E, along with antioxidants help to keep the immune system strong and reverses the oxidative stress damage to our cells! I prefer a great liquid multi -Try Organic Life Vitamins, Compete Multi Powder or Alive! Liquid Multi!
Eat Healthy Food! It is essential now to make smart food choices! Try to eat organic foods, non-GMO, and unprocessed foods. Forget about fast foods and processed, boxed foods. Eat more veggies and fruits like berries! Avoid the gluten grains like wheat and rye. Get quality fats from coconut oil, ghee, and extra virgin olive oil. Add superfoods or shakes like spirulina, chia seeds, hemp protein, mulberries, and other quality nutrient dense foods.
SLEEP is Essential! Your body needs at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night! If you are not sleeping well your body cannot repair and renew itself. We end up making poor choices during the day and our mental functions can diminish and become foggy, forgetful, or irritated and tense.
Supplement with Ashwaganda and Rhodiola, twice a day for at least 6-12 weeks (for stage 1 and 2). This has been proven to relax the stress response in the body. Preliminary studies indicate that Ashwaganda helps to reduce the negative effects of stress, slow tumor growth, treat anxiety and insomnia, helps regulate blood sugar balance and reduce cholesterol in addition to increasing sexual performance! Rhodiola is shown to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function and improve energy levels. (Try ‘Adrenal Response’ or ‘Adrenal Assist’ in our online store! Excellent choices.)
There really isn't a 'one size fits all' of an adrenal support formula as there are at least 5 stages to stress and fatigue. The stages of fatigue and exhaustion may need more help to restore proper functions before things get much worse. You cannot live without your adrenals!!! Visit your friendly, neighborhood Naturopath (yours truly!) to be tested by the Vital Scan HRV test to show the effects of stress on ALL of your body systems. Be educated and informed of the best choices for your particular needs as our bodies are all a bit different in requirements.
Understand the importance of learning de-stressing techniques and keeping a healthy outlook! See the BIG picture and know that somehow everything is unfolding exactly as it should. Taking good care of yourself is essential for continued energy and vitality. Good health is a CHOICE!
Jane Smolnik is a Naturopathic Doctor and Iridologist specializing in Adrenal Stress and Fatigue. Her office is located in Asheville, NC but she also works with clients by phone or Skype. Please visit our websites at www.AdrenalMasters.com and www.UltimateHealing.com for more info and our online apothecary for the best, quality choices for nutrients, herbs, sleep, immune and stress support.