“Sometimes what we know, is not what we do.” Maria Arora
For the next 3 episodes we are talking about stress. Stress affects EVERYONE. Not just adults working hard. It affects children, the elderly, the sick and the healthy. No-one is immune.
What is stress?
Stress is when there is something that your body has to use energy and effort to cope with. This can include temperature changes, exercise, overthinking, overworking and any emotional stimulant. It can also be seemingly trivial things which you think will not affect you.
We measure cortisol levels to gauge the physical stress your body is under and it isn’t unusual to see levels double what they should be. These patients often remark they do not understand because they do not feel stressed. This is important to note, because we all have different perceptions of what stress is and thus depending on your mindset and what you experience on a daily basis, what you consider high stress will vary from another person.
By measuring hormones, we can see how stress affects the body and the effect of stress on the body still manifests even when the mind is ignoring the feeling of stress.
In this 3 week series we are going to be talking about:
The hormonal responses of stress
We have a glandular system and glands are like little factories that produce hormones. Hormones act like messengers in that they carry a message to instigate an action elsewhere in the body. For example we have hormones which tell our heart to pump faster or slower and hormones that create happy or sleepy feelings. Our hormones are the catalyst for every change in our body and so without hormones, the body will not function.
Understanding hormones is important when looking at stress, because your body will produce hormones in response to stress in an attempt to mediate its effects. Some of the hormones produced in response to stress are adrenaline, DHEA and cortisol.
To have enough hormones for all the actions we want to take place in the body, we require a few things to occur.
First we have dietary requirements with a major component being the need for adequate protein (2 serves of 20g per day for the average person) as amino acids (from protein) are the building blocks for hormones. But we also need certain minerals (eg iodine for Thyroid), vitamins (eg Vit B) and cholesterol for the production of hormones to occur.
Cholesterol often gets given a bad rap because we all know that if we have too much of it then it can clog the blood vessels and cause fatty liver. However, we do need a certain amount of it and one of its functions is to help in the production of hormones (known as a precursor).
The trick with getting the right amount of cholesterol without ingesting too many fats (and thus affecting your liver and other organs) is to choose good sources. Eggs are a wonderful choice as they are a good source of protein, Vitamin B and cholesterol without containing too much fat. On the flip side, we want to avoid cholesterol containing foods that also have a high fat content like dairy (cheese, chocolate, milk, cream etc), animal fat and deep fried foods.
Glands and Stress
The adrenal and thyroid glands are the two glands that produce hormones due to the stress response.
When stress occurs the adrenals produce adrenaline which helps the body to move and act. To balance the adrenalin, the adrenal glands then produce cortisol.
If the stress stimulus does not go away, we continually produce adrenaline and thus cortisol to manage the adrenaline and a process of what is known as upregulation occurs where there is more and more cortisol produced to the point of where the receptor in your brain saying to produce cortisol, will not turn off.
We then start to bioaccumulate cortisol and the body needs to find a way to metabolise (break down) the cortisol in order to keep the body in balance. This is where problems begin to occur as when the cortisol is metabolised it creates an increase in estrogen (E1 and E3 - the bad type). The high estrogen levels create an increase in inflammatory responses and we then trigger genetic conditions we are predisposed to (e.g. high cholesterol, breast cancer, crohn's disease, psoriasis etc).
DHEA is the precursor (the required trigger) to cortisol. DHEA levels are associated with aging and begin to drop when cortisol is being continually produced. This speeds up the process of aging. As an example, have you ever noticed how when a politician is sworn in as prime minister or president that after a couple of years they look like they have aged dramatically in that short time span? This is the effect of stress on the body and our skin is just a reflection of what is occurring internally.
The thyroid tends to go at the same speed as the adrenal glands. So if you are pushing hard and utilising cortisol to get through your day, day after day, then your thyroid will also be overworked. Eventually your thyroid will struggle to produce the required amount of hormones and this is why Hypothyroidism is such a common problem.
Vitamin B, magnesium and iodine are critical for supporting your adrenal glands and thyroid.
In conjunction with nutrition, we need to look at nervous system input. That is, anything that pushes the nervous system into overdrive. For example, long hours at work, too much noise, lack of sleep, extreme emotions (positive or negative). When the nervous system is activated in this way, adrenaline is produced and as discussed already, this puts an increased load on the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Calming down the nervous system is the best place to start. By calming the nervous system, the body can balance itself. If however, you are the exhaustion stage, you will need to support your adrenals and thyroid. But you need to note that depending on your hormone levels, you will need different types of support. So if you are feeling exhausted, this is when you need to reach out for support from a qualified therapist. Good therapist will also take your unique genetic factors into consideration when prescribing your treatment.
If you require more support in your health journey or have any questions, head to our website at https://www.aurorahealingcodes.com/
Music: Wholesome by Kevin MacLeod
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