Stress Kills – By Intern Mike Moss
In this day and age, people have to be pro-active about their health. We are no longer living in the environment that our genetic code has been groomed for over the years that humans have existed. During this time, our bodies have adapted the unique ability to deal with physical and mental stress in a healthy and constructive way. In the modern day civilized society, the ways that we deal with stress are often times counterproductive and actually Destructive to our overall health. One of the biggest killers in our nation is stress, and the reason why that is, is that stress contributes to all disease process. Chronic stress has been found to be a major cuplrit in diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, obesity, stroke, an array of digestive disorders, memory and cognitive dysfunction, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue… even skin disorders! It is for this reason that mental and physical stress must be managed in a good and healthy way, so that we don’t create conditions within our bodies that would be favorable to disease process.
Cortisol and Catecholemines.
Our bodies are equipped with hormones that are designed to save us in a crisis. You may have heard of cortisol and catecholemines (adrenaline and noradrenaline). These are some of the most powerful and potent hormones we have in our bodies and they are quite useful. They have the amazing ability to break down just about anything in your body (fats, protiens, carbohydrates) and turn it into simple sugars for the body to create energy. Interestingly, our digestive system is even shut down, making it nearly impossible to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals from the food that we eat. These hormones are designed to be used in quick spurts, to buy you time to change your environment (ex. if you are running away from a tiger). However, modern day civilization has a laundry list of stressors that our ancestors did not have. Stress now comes in what seems like a hundred different forms. Chronic stressors come from work, traffic, money issues, relationship issues, illnessess, and negative thoughts fueled by anger, fear, depression or hostility. When we encounter physical or mental stress of any kind, our body responds by dumping cortisol and catecholamines into the blood stream. The following are the effects of these stress homones, all of which will save your life if you happen to be running away from, say… a tiger.
increased blood sugar increased blood pressure increased blood cholesterol immune system is shut down inflammatory process is enhanced increased heart rate (heart is working harder than it should be) digestive system is shut down
How does it sound to constantly not have your immune system up and working, or to have high blood pressure or high blood sugar every day, or have your digestive system shut off even when you are eating and desperately trying to benefit from the health that food provides? These are all signs of pending heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer… our nation’s supposed top killers! So, you might ask… why is my body trying to kill me? Well, cortisol is absolutely essential for survival, and this can be observed in the lab when you remove the adrenal glands of an animal. They become unable to fight off even minor illnesses or mental stress, where even a minor respiratory tract infection can lead to death. The truth is, there lies a perfect balance between the use of cortisol and adrenaline, and the management of the effects of them. How you choose to manage you stress will ultimately determine your overall health. The most important and healthy way you can manage your stress is by movement. Physical activity will enhance your body’s ability to regulate your cortisol and catecholemine levels. Movement is a nutrient for your nervous system, and it stimulates your brain like you wouldn’t believe. Did you know that every time you see the Chiropractor, he induces movement into your spine and stimulates your body immediately to reduce stress? Yet, another great reason to see your Chiropractor!
Kill your stress!
Many of us have been lured into falsely thinking that we are relieving stress by popping a muscle relaxer, smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, eating junk food, or being a couch potatoe. These are not only damaging to our health and vitality, but they actually further induce stress into our lives. We need to be conscious of how we deal with stress because there is a wrong way and there is a healthy way.
There are many healthy ways to reduce stress that have proven powerfully effective, physical activity being the top researched. Some other ways that you can manage your stress in a healthy way include:
Yoga Enjoying nature Sleeping Prayer Meditation Good nutrition Coping skills (ex. deep breathing techniques)
Finding time to do what makes you happy… whether it be enjoying a sunset or a sunrise, being with a loved one, making love to your spouse, playing with a pet, or going for a walk.
Dr Eric: Great job from one of our great interns, be well, be blessed and surely do not be stressed!