Stress, Insulin, Cholesterol, Hormones and Your Brain.

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Stress reduction technique

You could follow the advice in the picture above, which is pretty much how most people deal with stress – badly – OR you could start to understand what’s happening and what you could really do:

The purpose of this little essay is to give you a quick crash course in human physiology so you can get the big picture of how stress causes disease and why so many people in the West get heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromylgia, arthritis, diabetes and dementia to name just a few.

Everybody knows that “stress” is bad for them, but most have no idea just how bad. Also most people don’t realize the continual stress they are under. Let me start by saying almost everyone you know, including yourself, is chronically stressed, and that it is slowly killing you. Cheery today aren’t I. But try not to panic, help is at hand.

So what is stress, in a scientific sense?

Stress is the physiological response of the body to real or perceived threat. This is important to realize as your body chemistry will react the same to a real tiger jumping at you, or just imagining one (very vividly, in the dark, just after watching a horror movie!). Threats today come to us from work, food, the air, our own minds and lifestyle.

When your body senses a potential threat – physical, chemical or mental – it responds by activating part of your nervous system called your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS for short). The SNS then sends messages to your adrenal glands and your brain. The short term effects are to release immediate energy reserves and heighten your senses, to get you ready to fight or run. This means blood is diverted from your vital organs to your muscles, muscle tension increases, blood sugar and blood pressure increase.

Now this is all very well for short term survival, but if stress continues it becomes very harmful.

First of all we need to make more hormones such as insulin to keep getting the extra blood sugar into out muscles. All of your major hormones (testosterone, oestrogen, insulin etc.) are made from ….cholesterol. So your liver makes more cholesterol under chronic stress and pumps it into the blood to be taken to the organs. If you run out of cholesterol you can’t make hormones and other systems start to fail – the brain for instance needs plenty of cholesterol to regulate mood, memory, and make brain cells.

In today’s society our bodies are now under constant stress from the food we eat (processed fat and sugar, covered in man made chemicals), the air we breathe (smoke and fumes from cars and factories) and the way we live (no exercise, lots of TV). Even sitting down is an unnatural position that stresses the body. This makes sitting down watching the news (normally a very negative mental/emotional experience) one of the worst habits you can have on a daily basis.

Chronic, repeated stress produces a set of responses, that however necessary at the time, ultimately impair our health and wellbeing. Medical research over the past 20 years has clarified how stress can produce illness, and it is known that heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety and most cancers are all preventable and lifestyle related.

Regular chiropractic care can be a part of a general stress reduction plan, and thus help prevent problems, while at the same time fine tuning your body.

Chiropractic helps reduce stress by improving spinal movement, which in turn stimulates the part of the brain that turns of stress.

An exciting small study has shown that chiropractic actually affects a type of enzyme that protects your DNA from aging – And the longer you receive regular chiropractic care, the better the results!

Another way to help combat stress is to take the 30 Day Healthy Drink Challenge

Related Article:

Methylation: Why Stress Turns You Toxic, (and alters your genes)

Written by Dr Chris Pickard

Published on 23 Nov 2009


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