Chronic Stress

You could think that life today is far less stressful than that of our forefathers, with better housing, sanitation, transport, technology, plentiful food, and medicine. Our entire environment has evolved for convenience and generally aids our longevity.

Chronic stress is associated with dysregulation of the HPA axis (Hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis) in response to persistent stress exposure, resulting in neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter alteration, affecting mood and cognition.

In our world today, most stressors are the non-life-threatening demands of work and family, new technology and media overexposure, driving constant expectations and/or unresolved psychological pressures that become the burden of chronic stress. We stretch to accommodate these mental and physical pressures with variable resilience, yet we rarely take the time to fully recover the reliability, security and connection required for our stress response to reset.

The rush of adrenalin is an acute response to what happening within our environment, adrenal corticosteroids suppress inflammation until safety is reached and recovery occurs. When psychological stress is continuous, this anti-inflammatory effect gets down regulated and pro-inflammatory state persist signifying the loss of homeostasis. (Balance)

Modern conditions, such as fatigue, anxiety is often driven by multiple stressors, relentless biological stress of contemporary living. Identifying, and minimising the biological stressors may facilitate the healing process.

Biological Stressors

Sleep issues (improve your ability to fall and stay asleep)

Poor Diet Choices (avoid eating processed foods and choose wholefoods)

Excessive exercise ( Enjoy a minimum of 30 mins or moderate activity, and 30 mins of
fun and relaxation on most days).

Poor Gut health (imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut)

Chronic Fatigue ( take the right nutrients to support your body)

Hormone Imbalance ( keep your hormones in check)

Stimulants ( avoid drinking lots of stimulants like coffee and alcohol)

The Diagram below explains very well how your brain responds to stress and how it can affect the whole body.

Oxidative damage is well known to damage the DNA and plays a key role in many chronic diseases.

Chronic stress activates the HPA axis to produce cortisol, which disturbs the balance of the gut microbiome. 1[1] This study suggests that the gut microbiota affects some aspects of brain function and behaviour, including emotional behaviour and related brain systems.

High cortisol also switches off the immune system!

Further evidence suggests supplementation with a probiotic may help to modulate the stress response, reducing anxiety and improving mood. The vagus nerve is a potential factor in helping to manage the stress response. This article here explains more about Probiotics.

Natural Medicine for Chronic Stress

Magnesium and B vitamins help produce anti-stress hormones, keeping you feeling relaxed and comfortable, and helps soothe tight, tense muscles.

Magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc are all nutrients required to be able to cope with stress effectively and may be depleted in chronic stress. Low Magnesium intensifies the stress response. In addition, dietary imbalances such as high intakes of unhealthy fat, calcium, coffee, and strong tea can worsen magnesium inadequacy, by either reducing absorption or enhancing elimination. Ongoing stress can lead to structural brain changes that can contribute to feelings of sadness and depression. Herbs, such as Turmeric and saffron, can help reverse these changes. Here is an example of a simple dish to get as much nutrients in your body as possible. Delicious Lentil Salad 

[1] Relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function | Nutrition Reviews | Oxford Academic ( Mohajeri MH, La Fata G, Steinert RE, Weber P. Relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function. Nutr Rev. 2018 Jul 1;76(7):481-496. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy009.