Nutrition and strategies to deal with stress
“Ill health is stressful.” I mean this literally. When unwell we are almost certainly suffering the symptoms and effects of stress. But stress is not to be feared, it is to be managed, which can be done simply and, most importantly, effectively.
Stress is a response, a series of physical changes that ready us to face a threat, or perform under pressure, from sport to exams. Stress can help us be decisive, fast and focussed, but too much stress is toxic. Evidence suggests that under stress our arteries thicken, blood becomes stickier (perhaps ready to clot in case of injury). Brain, lungs, heart and muscles are, rapidly and chronically, over or underactivated. The body’s chemical balance changes; releasing adrenosine and adrenaline, aiding alertness but disrupting sleep and increasing the body’s inflammatory response, (a pre-cursor to illness). Increased cortisol (aka the stress hormone) brings fat and sugar cravings, eliminating our ability to shed fat and toxins. Stress also strips serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that make us feel safe and well.
Acute stress – a one-time event response – can have serious consequences, aggravating pre-existing conditions (heart, joint pain) but mostly the body re-balances without long-term trouble. Most dangerous is ongoing or chronic stress, undermining wellbeing and over-time, causing wide-ranging physical or psychological damage. Most of us manage symptoms of stress with over-the-counter medication, antacids for tummy upset, aspirin for headaches. Many use alcohol and other drugs.
If you do either, consult your health practitioner or GP. Ask if chronic stress has given you a chronic condition and get started on a stress management plan immediately.
Chronic stress is linked with numerous diseases and an aggravating factor in many damaging health conditions including: • Heart disease and stroke • Irritable Bowel Syndrome &
Inflammatory Bowel Disease • Peptic Ulcers • Migraine and tension
headaches • Back pain, arthritis and joint
inflammation • Susceptibility to colds and flu and aggravated symptoms post infection • Asthma • Herpes • Lowered immune function • Diabetes • Eating disorders • Insomnia • Weight gain • Premenstrual Syndrome • Mood fluctuation • Eczema • Unexplained Hair Loss
(Alopecia Areata) • Periodontal disease • Diarrhea & Constipation • Impotence • Depression • Anxiety • Irritability • Headaches • Muscle and joint pain • Shortness of breath • Skin irritation and rashes • Memory lapses • Reduced attention span • Loss of enjoyment, appetite,
motivation, libido • Anxiety • Sleeplessness • Sickly (impaired immunity)