What is Stress?
“Any influence, internal or external, that causes or leads to malfunction”
Once upon a time, stress was pretty straight forward and was mainly caused by things wanting to kill us, or us trying to kill something else (predators and prey). The problem is that the body does not distinguish between the stress produced by an attacking predator – or the modern day equivalent (maybe it’s the wife??)
I’m only half kidding here as arguments with a significant other, your boss chasing a deadline, that appointment with the bank manager etc can all be responsible for cresting this stress response). These can also be called ‘Cortisol triggers’.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands (above the kidneys). It’s job is to encourage energy production especially during periods of stress, such as when scared (fight or flight). It mobilises energy in the form of sugar which is expected, by the body, to be utilised by that fight against the attacking predator, or to use in order to run away and escape. If this doesnt happen; if the energy does not get utilised in some way, then this will be stored as body fat.
What should happen next is that we escape the predator or kill they prey, and have time to relax and allow that adrenaline to dissipate and cortisol to reduce. This is a functional and natural process and normally the body regulates it well. Unfortunately, we are becoming increasingly subject to stressful situations from a far greater range of sources. This constant stress, and therefore chronically elevated Cortisol, creates numerous problems and can be responsible for; Low Libido/Sex Drive; irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, changes in male/female characteristics, muscle wasting or inability to increase muscle mass, body fat gains and/or inability to lose body fat, increased sodium retention and therefore increased blood pressure, blood sugar regulation problems. increased free fatty acids and serum cholesterol; suppressed immune function (lowers Sectertory Immunoglobulin a), altered Thyroid Function, hormone production and effectiveness; depletion of the body’s minerals; reduced quality of sleep and resultant problems (I will go in to this in a future blog), energy dips, concentration issues and metal fog, and more!
Sources of Stress
Unfortunately there are far more stressors, that we experience in every day life, that have the same, cortisol releasing response. Some other ‘cortisol triggers’ include:
– physical pain: back pain, postural imbalances. Get your posture checked by a CHEK Practitioner and they will also give you a tailored programme of exercises and stretches to help correct the dysfunction.
– immune activity – general sickness and seasonal colds, through to more long term and insidious issues such as parasitic, bacterial or fungal infestation. Eating to your metabolic type will help again here as your body’s pH will be in balance with an MT Diet. This will therefore provide an inhospitable environment to those bugs and germs.
– poor diet. From the basics such as simply not getting enough fresh, whole foods, to eating foods that are wrong for your metabolic type, to eating foods that you are actually intolerant too. This also links to the immune system, as food intolerances will lead to CHRONIC immune system activation, and eventually, immune system fatigue (where the body cannot continue to produce enough immunoglobulins – seen on functional lab tests as a low Secretory IgA score). More on this in the future!
– Environmental toxins are also responsible for producing a cortisol response, as well as an extra load on the detoxification system. Using lots of dangerous household chemicals and body care products are a real cortisol trigger. Switch to organic products to help reduce this toxic load.
As you can see there are many factors that can contribute to that high stress level. Adding up the total of both the internal and external stressors can give a good indication of why your cortisol may be high.
Coming Up – Part 2
In my next blog I will explain more about stress and cortisol, including the ways you can address your own issues. I guarantee this will REALLY open your eyes and show why managing your stressors is CRITICAL to finding optimal health.
In the meantime, if you would like to speak to me personally about measuring your Cortisol levels, Adrenal Fatugue, Sex/Steroidal hormones, digestive system health, and much more then feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Contact Me page.
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