With all the COVID-19 lockdowns, layoffs, job losses, destruction of small businesses, emptying of life savings and uncertainty about when and if life will ever return to normal, it is safe to say that the effects of this situation may linger and cause pain and suffering for far longer than the virus ever would.
And that is especially true when you consider the far-reaching and potentially deadly effects of chronic stress.
Most of us have stress in our lives at some point or another, and in certain situations it can be good! Positive stress can be a motivator and encourage you to achieve things you may not have thought you could.
But negative stress—especially that which is chronic and ongoing, like in our current situation—is quite another story. That’s why I call chronic stress The Ultimate Destroyer.
Here’s what I mean:
Stress—the Ultimate Destroyer
Stress takes its toll on your body and mind in several ways—here are 5 of the most significant:
Stress can trigger inflammation, which is a leading factor behind many chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, back pain, premature aging, and our top two killers--heart disease and cancer.
2- Elevated cortisol
Your body has a perfectly designed process to help you handle stress. It is reflective of our ancient caveman programming, when the stresses faced by humans were quick and short-lived, such as hunting wild animals or fending off enemy tribes, and prepares your body for the “fight or flight” reaction.
Here’s what happens:
When your brain senses stress, your adrenal glands produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and carbohydrate metabolism, and cortisol directs energy to your brain and muscles. All of these processes get you ready to either fight or run for your life.
Once the stress passes, your adrenaline level drops quickly, but cortisol remains high to refuel your body—and it does so by increasing your appetite.
If your stress is temporary and short-lived, this is fine, but the problem arises when you have chronic, ongoing stress because your body reacts the same way—it can’t differentiate between temporary and chronic stress.
As a result, your cortisol levels become elevated and stay high. This can cause you to "stress eat”—especially sugars and refined carbs—because the cortisol is repeatedly telling you to refuel.
Plus, elevated cortisol can lead to depressed immune function, low thyroid function and problems with blood sugar control (increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes).
Chronic stress can also lead to an inflammation of the stomach called gastritis.
Its symptoms are similar to acid reflux and can include heartburn, bloating, nausea, vomiting, dark stools and poor digestion.
4- Gut problems and impaired immune function
Stress causes harmful changes to your microbiome, which in turn weakens your immune functioning.
It also causes your gut to become hypersensitive, and that can trigger food allergies and sensitivities.
In addition, stress causes the protective barrier inside your intestines to become less effective at defending your body against dangerous bacteria and pathogens.
So, you are far more susceptible to viruses, infections and food-borne illness when under chronic stress.
5- Negating a healthy diet
Normally, having a healthy nutritious diet can go a long way in supporting optimal health and preventing sickness.
But lo and behold, studies have shown that stress can even UNDO the protective effects of a healthy diet!
This is because stress leads to decreased nutrient absorption, decreased oxygen and blood flow to your GI tract, and reduced digestive enzyme output.
So when you’re stressed, even if you’re eating the best foods in the world, your body is likely not digesting and receiving the nutrients it so desperately needs…and this opens the door for inflammation and sickness to go on the warpath inside of you.
How to fight back
First and foremost, it's important to reduce and eliminate as much stress from your life as you can. I know it’s difficult during our current situation, but there are still things you can do. Regular exercise, mediation, yoga, massage, counseling, prayer, acupuncture and even adopting a pet can help.
Also, try lavender essential oil in a diffuser or on your pillow at night. Our Ocean Lavender Oil is a big hit with our clients!
And if your job or a relationship is a source of constant stress, well, it may be time for a major change. Do what you need to do—your health and life are worth it!
But even after the COVID-19 situation passes, stress will inevitably rear its ugly head from time to time, so it's also essential to give your body the support it needs:
Get enough sleep
Make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Proper rest is crucial for your mind and body to regenerate.
Even if you’re very stressed out and can’t fall asleep right away, just lying very still in your bed in a dark room is helpful and encourages melatonin production.
Pave the way for sound digestion
Efficient digestion is vital for proper nutrient absorption and can help eradicate the symptoms of stress-induced gastritis and other GI problems.
My Great Taste No Pain health system will teach you how to pair foods together in your meals that are much easier for your system to break down. When you make your GI tract’s job easier, you can enjoy better digestion, and less gas, bloating and heartburn.
And if you want some temporary relief from heartburn, our Gastro BeCalm Blend is your ticket! Its effective blend of herbs including ginger and mastic gum soothes a cranky GI tract and helps kill H. pylori too!
Support your microbiome
Stress takes a tremendous toll on your gut microbes, so it’s essential to help repopulate your supply of beneficial, illness-fighting bacteria with a top-quality, full-spectrum probiotic formula like Super Shield.
Also, incorporate fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha into your diet.
Counteract inflammation with Nature’s anti-inflammatories
One of the best ways to keep inflammation low is to embrace the power of Nature’s own anti-inflammatories—Omega-3 essential fatty acids and Turmeric!
In addition to eating fatty fish like salmon, an outstanding fish oil formula like VitalMega-3 can provide a therapeutic dose of inflammation-fighting Omega-3 fats, including the all-important EPA and DHA.
And turmeric (found in our Optimal Turmeric Blend) is fast emerging as an anti-inflammatory superstar! Here are some of the ways it can help enhance your health and counteract the effects of stress and inflammation:
- Cancer and Alzheimer’s prevention
- Fighting disease-causing inflammation
- Boosting the immune system
- Reducing joint and back pain
- Supporting the cardiovascular system, and healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Enhancing brain and nervous system health, as well as skin health
Don’t let stress take a toll on your health for one minute longer.
Fight back and help create a healthier you—through COVID-19 and beyond!
To your health,
The information in our articles are NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and are not intended as medical advice.