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Can Stress Cause Disease?

18 March 2010 6 comments

Can Stress Cause Disease?

109195046 We all recognize acute stress. Imagine driving your new Mercedes convertible for the first time and suddenly the car in front of you slams on its brakes for a red light which they only see at the last minute, giving you only seconds to respond and prevent crashing your new car. Or Even worse, the car in front is the new Mercedes convertible! Adrenaline is pumped around your body making your heart beat faster and more powerfully. Glucose from the liver is released into your blood to give you quick energy. This gives your brain, eyes and muscles more blood, rich in oxygen and glucose, to help you focus solely on the situation at hand. Another hormone, cortisol, is released by your body to signal protein and fat conversion to glucose to boost backup energy supplies. Cortisol also tells the body to hold onto sodium and water to keep your blood pressure high. In addition, cortisol stimulates the immune system to be ready to take on any potential threats. You quickly slam your own brakes on just in time to avoid the car in front. The stress has now passed and you can relax and breath easy again. In our modern lives we have other types of subtle stress that are there on a daily basis such as meeting deadlines, paying bills and battling rush hour traffic to get home in time to prepare dinner for the family. These create chronic ongoing stress and most people are not aware of the damage this can have on their health. The stress response is an important and necessary part of survival and allows us to adapt to and overcome challenging situations, but it is designed as a self-limiting, short-lived response and when it becomes chronic the original benefits become disadvantageous to our health

When Stress becomes Chronic the original benefits become Disadvantageous to our Health

  • Decreased digestive function because blood is redirected to the brain and muscles
  • Raised LDL (bad cholesterol) from release of fats for extra energy & lowered HDL (good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure from sodium and water retention
  • High blood sugar from release of glucose to the blood
  • Lowered immunity
If the stress is ongoing, not only does your body get exhausted and depleted, but the continued effects listed above can lead to the development of diseases such as digestive dysfunction and malabsorption; type 2 Diabetes; atherosclerosis and heart disease; autoimmune conditions. Chronic stress can also lead to adrenal fatigue. Stress Management Tips:
  • Identify stressors and remove or reduce these factors
  • Exchange negative coping patterns with positive ones
  • Engage in regular, moderate exercise
  • Avoid stimulants such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol & nicotine
  • Eat regularly to maintain constant blood sugar levels
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep and remember the hours before midnight are key for quality sleep
  • And Most importantly! Have a good laugh daily, its great stress relief and has positive health benefits

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