The Impact of Stress on Health

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Let’s face it, the stress we face in our lives isn’t ever going to go away completely.

Stress produces a “flight or fight” response in the body, making you believe you either must stay and fight or flee for your life. Stress affects all areas of our body, gut, and skin so let’s dive into some symptoms, causes, and solutions, shall we?

Disclaimer:

This article is for educational purposes only and should not be used to replace medical advice. Please consult your health practitioner for an individualized approach to your specific needs.

The Interplay of Stress, Inflammation, Gut, and Skin

Inflammation, often a protective response to injuries, can morph into a chronic state wreaking havoc on various bodily systems. Chronic stress activates the flight or fight response, releasing cortisol and adrenaline, which, in turn, prompts the immune system to elevate inflammation. This inflammation, if persistent, leads to a range of issues affecting digestion, skin health, joints, and mental well-being.

Gut-Brain Axis and Inflammation

Stress doesn’t just trigger inflammation; It also disrupts gut-brain access, resulting in increased gut permeability and an imbalance in the gut microbiome. This domino effect contributes to further inflammation and digestive issues.

The gut and the brain are connected and depend on each other for relaying signals on what is going on both internally and externally. Your gut is also known as the second brain. (1)

Skin Under Siege

Oxidative stress induced by chronic stress impacts the skin barrier, making it more susceptible to dehydration and external irritants. Collagen breakdown, essential for skin elasticity, is accelerated under stress, leading to skin issues. (2)

This overabundance of stress doesn’t just affect the skin barrier but also affects the hair follicle itself. The foundations of the body happen at the cellular level. A recent study on mice showed that chronic stress and inflammation caused hair greying. (3)

The Body’s Symphony during Stress

When stress knocks, the adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline, initiating a Symphony within the body. Heart rate increases, blood flow redirects, and energy is mobilized for immediate action.

Glycogen Breakdown

When the body is stressed, it stores a lot of sugar (glycogen) like a candy jar. There are enzymes in the body responsible for breaking down this extra glycogen, however, when under stress, they can get confused, and instead of using it as energy, it gets stored, creating an even bigger candy jar.

Since glycogen is stored in the liver, it makes the liver grow and if it grows too much, it can start forming tumors or lumps. (4)

 

Breathe of Life- Airway Dilation and Oxygen Intake

Adrenaline facilitates the dilation of Airways, optimizing oxygen intake to fuel vital organs and tissues. Deep breathing becomes crucial in maintaining this delicate balance.

Stress and Digestive Symphony

In a study of 3 different animal models, scientists found that stress had a profound impact on the permeable wall of the intestinal wall, making it weaker. (5)

Stress throws a wrench into the regulatory system by reducing stomach acid, impeding proper food breakdown, and increasing the risk of leaky gut issues. Nutrient absorption takes a hit, leading to deficiencies.

A leaky gut is a consequence of stress-induced digestive changes, rendering the digestive tract vulnerable to pathogens, bacteria, and parasites, impacting overall health.

 

Top 10 Tips for stress reduction for stress reduction:

  1. Nutrient-Dense Diet: Prioritize whole nutrient-dense foods.
  2. Hydration: Keep the body well hydrated for optimal function.
  3. Mindful Eating: Slow down, savor each bite, and avoid distractions.
  4. Regular Movement: Keep the body in motion for proper digestion and detoxification.
  5. Adequate Sleep: Achieve 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep nightly.
  6. Gratitude Journaling: Cultivate a grateful heart for stress resilience.
  7. Being Still: Carve out moments of stillness in your day
  8. Social Connections: nurture quality relationships for emotional well-being.
  9. Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to blue light before bedtime.
  10. Deep Breaths: Practice deep breathing to influence oxygen CO2 balance and maintain pH.

Resources:

Conclusion:

In the intricate dance of stress and its impact on the body, adopting these stress-reducing habits becomes a powerful tool. Balancing inflammation, promoting digestive harmony, and nurturing skin health contribute to a holistic approach to optimal well-being.

The journey to the healthiest version of yourself begins with foundational habits.

Next Steps:

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