Stress And Your Body - Inflammation And Disease

Stress, in simple terms can be defined as: as state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very emotional circumstances.  Stress is any kind of stimulus that evokes a biological response.  

We have all experienced stress in our lives in one shape or form.  Whether it be job related, health related, financial, situational onset (accident), family or otherwise.   Depending on the severity and duration of the stressor (cause of stress) it can take quite a toll on your body, physical health, emotional health and spiritual health.

Sometimes stress can be a motivator and essential for survival, as in the 'fight or flight' situation where it becomes essential that you respond to a dangerous situation. 

I have been experiencing a high level of stress in my life for the past year.  Some was exciting, such as with the launch of my new business (Dec 2017) and some was devastating such as with the diagnosis of terminal cancer for my mother and then the subsequent loss of my mother. 

I know the impact that those stressors had on me and my body.  I have had various symptoms (anxiety, grief, lack of appetite, heightened awareness, inflammation, memory issues, etc.) and have noted the physical ailments that manifested due to the stress.  I have experienced an increase in asthma symptoms; noticed abdominal weight gain (due to release of cortisol); lethargy (from adrenal burnout); etc. 

Even while in the midst of everything, I noticed the symptoms as they were happening and have been able to deal with the issues by: reducing any additional stress in my life, exercising, eating clean and easy to digest foods, increasing probiotics and fermented foods, using immune boosting herbs, foods and oils and using anti inflammatory herbs, foods and oils, meditation and a lot of prayer, so I can bring my body back to homeostasis.

Mayo Clinic describes the common effects of stress as:

Common effects of stress

Common effects of stress on your body

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

The list of common effects above does not seem all that alarming as you read through it.  When in reality, the impact that stress can have on your body is grave. 

In a research article published in EXCLI Journal (Experimental and Clinical Sciences) it states:

"Based on the type, timing and severity of the applied stimulus, stress can exert various actions on the body ranging from alterations in homeostasis to life-threatening effects and death. In many cases, the pathophysiological complications of disease arise from stress and the subjects exposed to stress, e.g. those that work or live in stressful environments, have a higher likelihood of many disorders. Stress can be either a triggering or aggravating factor for many diseases and pathological conditions."

The application of stress actually brings about physiological changes in the entire body - changes in the nervous system (flooding the body with release of hormones) and can cause structural changes in different parts of the brain which bring about differences in response to stress, cognition and memory.  Long term (chronic stress) can actually cause atrophy of the brain mass and decrease its weight.  Stress affects the function of the immune system by flooding the body with hormones corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn causes the blood level of cortisol to be raised (there are various other hormones in the body that are affected by stress).  Stress whether acute or chronic has a damaging effect on the cardiovascular system as well with increase in heart rate, vasodilation of the arteries and narrowing of the veins, etc.

With the changes in the nervous system, it can bring about many of those symptoms (above): nervousness, anxiety, anger, restlessness, overeating, weight gain, etc.  The structural changes in the brain precipitate symptoms such as: lack of concentration, memory loss, impaired judgement, social withdrawal, depression, etc.  The cardiovascular changes can cause a whole host of issues such as arrhythmias, heart attack, blood clotting problems, etc.

In the same EXCLI Journal research article is states:  "Severe stress can lead to malignancy by suppressing the immune system.   In fact, stress can decrease the activity of cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells and lead to growth of malignant cells, genetic instability, and tumor expansion."

As all of these changes (discussed) are happening - so is INFLAMMATION.  Although the stressor was the initiator and the immediate physiological changes were next - INFLAMMATION was the culprit to bring about all the other issues.

Inflammation is the root of most if not ALL diseases.. NOT kidding.  More and more research that is being done has found that inflammation (which was the start of it all) that became chronic and caused cellular and molecular changes in the body - precipitated the way for disease to take hold.  In a research paper published by EMBO they state, "Inflammation has long been a well-known symptom of many infectious diseases, but molecular and epidemiological research increasingly suggests that it is also intimately linked with a broad range of non-infectious diseases, perhaps even all of them."

Is is very important that we pay attention to the signals of stress and do our best to eliminate it where we can and modify our reaction by adding as many GOOD adjunct items to our lives as we can:  exercise, yoga, deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, prayer, eating clean, using/taking natural anti inflammatories.

Every product that Nico's Organics has will benefit your body as they contain oils, herbs and whole foods that are natural anti inflammatories, natural antioxidants (which are free radical scavengers) and immune boosting ingredients.

Be well.

Hugs - Nico