It is believed that approximately 70% of visits to the doctors are stress related.
Classic conditions associated with stress are depression, anxiety, low energy, poor concentration, insomnia, and food cravings.
The classic signs of stress are poor memory and headaches, flushed face, racing heart, stomach upset and diarrhoea, frequent illness colds and flues, sweaty palms, tense muscles, shortness of breath, crying and mood swings.
How stress affects the body
- Short term stress can improve some parts of our immunity although persistent and long-term stress will reduce it. Stress promotes inflammation in the body, inflammation supresses the immune system. In addition, when we are stressed, we produce more stress related hormones. These can block certain immune substances and make our gut more unbalanced and susceptible to illness.
- Stress disrupts blood sugar balance and long terms may lead to insulin resistance and ultimately type 2 diabetes.
- Stress disrupts our reproductive hormones and can lead to menstrual irregularities and infertility.
- Long term stress can unbalance the thyroid and can contribute
- Contributes to an underactive thyroid. The thyroid produced thyroid hormones whose primary function is to regulate metabolism.
- Quickens aging
- Reduced brain function, especially memory and cognitive abilities.
- Stress increase the heart rate, narrows arteries and blood pressure. Continued stress may contribute to atherosclerosis.
- Stress can dampen the mood. This is by reducing the amount of serotonin this is produced. Serotonin also needs b vitamins and magnesium which are used up in the stress response.
Lifestyle Choices that place the body under stress.
- Processed foods
- Carbonated fizzy drinks
- In some cases, gluten, dairy and common irritants
- Limited or excessive exercise
- Lack of sleep
Vitamins, Minerals and other changes During Stress
B vitamins used more – sources are meat and fish, beans, pulses, wholegrains, dark green leafy veg, sunflower seeds, almond, diary, avocados bananas.
Vitamin C used more – sources are broccoli, Brussels, cauliflower, salad peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, salmon, mackerel
Magnesium used more – sources are nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, figs, avocados, bananas,
Reduced production of stomach acid/digestive enzymes – this means you will not be able to digest your food properly and absorb all the good stuff.
Sodium – lower levels
Potassium – lower levels
How to conquer stress.
Well there is no easy answer to this one. The first step is to recognise how you are feeling. Many people who are overworked do not recognise that they are stress. Stress in some cases can become the new normal. That does not mean it should be.
Different people will become stressed about completely different things and worry that they are stressed but the next person is not. This is normal and as we know comes down to how you perceive the situation.
- Listen to close friends and family who notice changes in you.
- Ask for help it’s not a weaknessTry to be objective not subjective – look at the facts
- Talk about how you are feeling its good for you
- Ensure you build into your day relaxation time
- Get plenty of fresh air.
- Ensure a colourful varied diet.
- Cut out or limit processed foods.
- Cut down on alcohol to the recommended levels
- Get some exercise – don’t over do it.
- Prioritise sleep.