It’s a monster that many of us deal with on a daily basis. A little bit of stress is a good thing. Normally, if we are generally healthy we can overcome these every day stresses and move on without it impacting our health long term.
Stress is an innate response by the body to cope with danger. In ancient times, the danger thrown at us was something like grizzly bear or a lion depending on where you’re from, threatening the livelihood of our family. Our natural stress response reacted to that danger by releasing a cascade of hormones so that you could run faster, jumper higher and scream louder than you ever had before in order to overcome the danger presented in front of you. The threat would become disinterested (hopefully) and move on.
Nowadays, that threat doesn’t seem to disappear. We’ve constantly got deadlines to meet, families to run, social lives to have as well as the extraordinary pressures we place on ourselves to perform. Stress never seems to disappear. It’s how we manage to cope with it that can affect our health long term.
There are 3 stages of stress:
- The alarm phase, where the threat pops up and you run away or stay to fight
- The resistance phase, when that threat will not get off your back no matter what you do with it, but it doesn’t seem to bug you (I’ll come back to this one soon).
- Exhaustion phase, this is where the threat wins the game…
Let’s circle back to the resistance phase. I see this in my clinic over and over again. This phase is a tricky one. This is a phase where a lot of people end up after they have been dealing with ongoing stress for a long period of time. They feel like they cope with it well and it’s likely that they do, but it’s still there slowly working its way into the exhaustion phase which is what we want to prevent. This phase presents with mild digestive symptoms, a bit of IBS, a few sleepless nights, immune function starting to decline a little and a couple emotional outbursts here and there.
The exhaustion phase, AKA adrenal fatigue. Digestion isn’t as responsive, immune function has declined and you’re picking up everything that’s getting around the office. You might find your skin breaks out a lot more than normal or you’re experiencing stubborn dermatitis. Finally, you may be struggling to drop the weight no matter what you try – which causes even more stress.
It’s a vicious cycle.
So what do we do?
A well balanced diet is more important than ever. A well balanced diet, generally speaking consists of a range of ALL three macronutrients as they all work hand-in hand:
- Carbohydrates required for energy, brain function, nervous system, muscle and vital organs
- Protein for muscle and tissue repair, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters required for regulating sleep and digestion
- Fats required for a production and stimulation of hormones, transport and absorption of nutrients and supporting healthy cholesterol levels
But, of course, nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle and working alongside a few practitioners is one of the most effective ways to get your back to good health if you are dealing with chronic stress. There are also a range of wonderful nutrients that may support your stress response and help improve quality of life if you’re dealing with long-term stress that’s begun to effect your health in a negative way.
Please note: none of what is written in this blog piece is meant to be used as a diagnosis and is for general information purposes only.
If you would like to find out more about how Maree may be able to support you with your nutrition, please get in touch via our online booking portal to book a free 15 minute discovery call.
Hechtman L. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine
Metagenics Australia 2018. https://www.metagenics.com.au/
Yaribeygi H et al. The impact of stress on body function: A review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396/
Sekirov I et al. Gut microbiota in health and disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20664075/