Stress and how it affects your body


Stress is something that affects many people, to one degree or other and it can come from a variety of sources.

It might be stress of a ‘mental’ kind, such as stress from pressure to achieve results on time, or stress from negative emotions or unhappiness.  It could be stress from financial or relationship concerns.   Or, it might be a physical stress on the body such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, consuming additives and preservatives or unhealthy food which then places stress on the liver, kidneys and skin, our organs of detoxification.  It might be stress from an infection or illness. Stress causes illness but illness also causes stress.  Lack of sleep is also a cause of physical stress on the body.

Physiologically, when our bodies are under stress various things happen automatically:

  • Our heart rate increases
  • Our blood pressure increases
  • Adrenalin, cortisol, epinephrine and other hormones are released
  • Blood clotting increases
  • Blood sugar is dumped into our bloodstream

Cortisol, a hormone released from the adrenal glands, prepares your body to fight off a perceived ‘threat’ and other important functions such as digestion are reduced in order to divert energy sources to where your body believes they are more urgently needed.

Cortisol also negates the effect of insulin which is released by the pancreas when blood sugar rises and whose job it is to maintain correct blood glucose levels.  When blood sugar levels remain elevated it is very damaging to all the cells in our body.  Cortisol blocks the blood sugar lowering effect of insulin, meaning blood sugar stays high and the body then releases even more insulin in an attempt to lower blood glucose levels.

If this situation continues long term it is likely that our bodies will become insulin resistant, meaning the body doesn’t recognise that the insulin is there and eventually this can lead to Type 2 diabetes, with all the health concerns that brings.

Another important point to understand is that if stress continues long term, it can cause catabolism (breaking down) of the body’s own muscle tissue.  If your body is in a catabolic state and breaking down protein (muscle and organ tissue) for fuel, it means it will not be breaking down fat for fuel.  If your fat loss has stalled, then you need to look at your stress level as well as the usual issues.

A catabolic, or tissue breakdown state, can affect any organ or body system. For example, if excessive tissue breakdown occurs in the joints, the result may be painful joints or arthritis. If excessive tissue breakdown occurs in the stomach, the result may be an ulcer. If it is in the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy can result. Similarly, tissue breakdown can affect any organ or system, including the immune system.  Along with the reduced ability to efficiently process food, cortisol also impacts the effectiveness of the immune system. In the short term cortisol’s role is to reduce the inflammatory response, however, if circulating cortisol is constantly high this can lead to immune system suppression which then impacts on health.

You can see from the above just how detrimental long term stress can be on health, wellbeing, energy levels and fat loss.

What can you do to reduce your stress levels? 

Regular exercise is important.  It doesn’t have to be hard out, high intensity exercise either, regular brisk walking will do the trick, but the word is regular.  Ideally aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Drink plenty of water to facilitate your kidneys and liver doing their detoxification jobs.  If your work or personal life is causing long term stress, then you need to work out what you can do to improve those situations.  Also be sure to include sufficient protein in your diet and to get adequate sleep.

For more information or to book a consultation, Contact Lynda now