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Is Stress Deterring You From Health?

02.11.2013

Is Stress Deterring You From Health?

Stress is now a common fixture in our hectic, busy lives. Small amounts of stress that are easily resolved can be beneficial in motivating and helping us achieve our goals. Although chronic or long-term stress affects each of us differently, it ultimately affects the whole body in a negative way and may contribute to many health complaints.

Is your health being affected by stress?

Do you often feel anxious, worried, depressed, irritable, exhausted, overloaded or forgetful?
Do you suffer from stiff or sore muscles or joints, tension headaches, high blood pressure, frequent colds or
the flu?
Or do you have irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, an increase or loss of appetite, or worsening of an existing illness or condition?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, your body may be overburdened by stress.

Fight or Flight: Your Response to Stress

Thousands of years agoreactions: to attack or run away. This is now known as the fight or flight response. Once this stress response is triggered, chemical messengers called adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline are produced by the adrenal glands and brain.These messengers increase blood flow to the essential organs such as the heart, lungs, brain and muscles to help us fight or run away. Digestive function slows down as this is less important in survival mode.Cortisol also increases the amount of sugar released into the blood to provide energyfor our muscles to attack or run. In the past, stress was short lived and once the stress was over, these chemical messengers shortly returned to normal.

Where’s the Off Switch?

Over time our bodies have not changed this biological response to stress. Although the sabre tooth tigers are long gone, the physical threat to our lives and limbs has been replaced with the modern day stress of long work hours, financial worries, traffic jams and family issues. So what happens if this stress response does not turn off because of our non-stop busy lifestyles?
Ongoing stress that does not resolve may result in chronic stress, which can be the underlying cause of many health conditions.Chronic stress can impact body systems such as the cardiovascular system by contributing to high blood pressure. It can also take its toll on your nervous system leading to exhaustion, headaches and insomnia. Your digestive and immune systems can also be weakened by stress, making you more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, frequent colds and the flu response. Once thisstress response is triggered, chemical messengers called adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline are produced by the adrenal glands and brain.These messengers increase blood flow to the essential organs such as the heart, lungs, brain and muscles to help us fight or run away. Digestive function slows down as this is less important in survival mode.Cortisol also increases the amount of sugar released into the blood to provide energyfor our muscles to attack or run. In the past, stress was short lived and once the stress was over, these chemical messengers shortly returned to normal.

The Cortisol Connection

Constant exposure to high levels of cortisol results in desensitisation of cortisol receptors – a condition known as cortisol resistance. This resistance results in impaired serotonin and noradrenaline production, predisposing you to memory impairment, insomnia, emotional instability, depression and/or anxiety disorders.
The immune system can become unresponsive to cortisol resulting in increased immune activation and inflammation. This might lead to the development of chronic inflammatory, allergic and/or autoimmune diseases. Metabolically, cortisol resistance and chronically high levels of cortisol may contribute to obesity, high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Impaired digestion and diarrhoea and/or constipation are also seen in patients who are cortisol resistant.

Herbs and Nutrients for De-stressing

Go from ‘dis-stressed’ to ‘de-stressed’ with the help of herbs and nutrients:
This month we would like to focus on two products for the acute symptoms associated with stress. We understand that this time of the year can be challenging for some people.

NeuroCalm

The herbs in NeuroCalm have been clinically shown /or traditionally used for patients feeling anxious and tense. The formula exerts a relaxing effect on the body and mind during times of stress and may helpto encourage balance between the excitatory effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It contains passionflower and in traditional western medicine it is used for tension, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. It may be used in stressful situations for symptomatic relief and 1-2 tablets is enough for most people who feel unruffled to compose themselves. NeuroCalm has a positive effect on dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood, leading to feelings of pleasure and contentment.

NeuroCalm’s formula is based on a Traditional Chinese Medicine formula with years of anecdotal evidence to support its effectiveness. This is now backed up with studies and science and Metagenics is dedicated to source each ingredient separately ensuring quality is maintained. This means they test for a particular percentage of active ingredients and that the ingredient is not contaminated with chemicals, pesticides or human excrement. Once approved the tableting process can commence. The tablet is retested for active ingredients and stability making sure the therapeutic ingredients have not deteriorated. This is repeated again at the expiry date. Practitioners need to be confident when prescribing supplement that their patients receive what is specified on the label is a therapeutic dose.

Some of the symptoms that may lead us to prescribe NeuroCalm include:

  • Anxious, tense and worried
  • Sleep problems – trouble getting to sleep, wakes early
  • Tendency to panic
  • Appetite and/or weight decrease when stressed

The modulating actions of the ingredients in NeuroCalm may encourage a balanced and calming effect within the body.

CalmX

CalmX is a formulation containing magnesium, potassium citrate, glutamine and taurine to reduce the effects of physical and psychological stress on the body, and reduce the severity of muscular tension and pain. B group vitamins are included to support the production of hormones released in response to stress.

There are many magnesium formulas on the market, but not all are the same. Metagenics has a proprietary blend called MetaMag©. What makes this so special, is the percentage of magnesium absorbed. Many magnesium preparations are poorly absorbed and people may experience stomach upsets, gurgling, belching and diarrhoea. This will not happen due to MetaMag©’s absorption qualities as it is absorbed via an amino acid channel within the digestive tract and therefore goes to where it is needed much faster. It doesn’t sit in the digestive tract like other forms. During stressful times B group vitamins are used up faster within the body and this formula has a therapeutic dose needed to replenish and support such pathways.

Stressed people tend to eat more take out, sweet and fatty foods as well as increasing the number of caffeinated stimulants. Over time due to a poor diet their body’s physiology naturally becomes more acidic. The body craves sugar and carbohydrate to boost serotonin levels furthermore increasing our blood sugar for a quick fix energy boost. Below is a table that outlines where different foods lie on the acid-alkalinescale. Glutamine and potassium citrate, two nutrients in CalmX, enhance the acid-alkaline balance of the body and may be beneficial for low-grade metabolic acidosis.

Stress Less for Good Health and Wellness

Although the stress of modern life is inescapable, it is important to remember that we can easily manage our response to stress with the help of dietary and lifestyle changes and some key natural medicines. Supporting a healthy stress response will allow you to feel more energised, resilient and ready to tackle life, so you can maintain the state of health and wellness that you deserve