Stress… that annoying, overwhelming sensation that tends to get in the way of us pursuing our goals. We all know stress feels physically and psychologically uncomfortable, but exactly how does stress affect or health? In this blog, I’m going to share with you exactly how does stress affect our bodies and our overall health.
Physiological Effects of Stress
Increased cortisol production: This is mostly associated with weight gain, specially in the mid section (belly), inability to lose weight or gain muscle, and premature aging.
Decreased nutrient absorption: Due to the decrease in digestive enzyme production, decreased bile flow from the gallbladder, as well as decreased oxygenation and gastrointestinal blood flow.
Increased nutrient excretion: Stress increases the urinary excretion of calcium; magnesium, potassium; zinc; chromium; selenium; and various trace metals.
Decreased gut flora populations: Stress destroys our little healthy intestinal bacterial friends which can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress.
Increase in sodium and fluid retention: Can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension).
Decrease in thermic efficiency: Our ability to burn calories is diminished.
Decrease in thyroid hormone: Can decrease our body’s metabolic activity.
Increase in blood cholesterol: Stress raises LDL cholesterol levels. -the bad cholesterol-
Increase in blood platelet aggregation: A major risk factor in heart disease.
Decrease in sexual hormones: Our sex drive can be grateful reduced along with our energy and muscle mass.
Increase in inflammation: The basis of many ailments including brain and heart disease.
Decrease in gastric emptying time: Can lead to constipation and can be a risk factor in diseases of the colon.
Increase in gastric emptying time: Can lead to diarrhea, and food particles prematurely entering the small intestines – a probable factor in food sensitivities, and various conditions.
Increased food sensitivities: No, I’m not saying that food is going to taste better, even though that sounds amazing! HA-HA! This is most likely due to decreased immunity and leaky gut.
Decreased hydrochloric acid production: The majority of the people will experience a reduction of the HCL (hydrochloric acid) of the stomach in the presence of stress as the nervous system -INSERT THE TYPE OS NERVOUS SYSTEM RESPONSE HERE – diverts the blood flow away from digestive organs.
Decrease in growth hormone: A key hormone in growing, healing, and rebuilding tissues; helps burnt fat and build muscle.
Increase in Insulin Resistance: Chronic low-level stress may cause target cells to become unresponsive to insulin – a factor in diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and aging.
Increase in erratic function of LES: Lower esophageal sphincter opens inappropriately, causing gastric reflux (the dreaded heartburn!)
Increase in oxidative stress: Prematurely ages the body; a precursor to many diseases.
Increased risk of osteoporosis: Bone density has been shown to decrease in stressed and depressed women; stress increases the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, and boron.
On top of all of this… Did you know that the brain CANNOT differentiate between real and imagined stress? YIKES!
The way stress affects our nervous system is by turning on our sympathetic nervous response meaning. That’s the response that TURNS OFF digestion. Incredible, right?
Have you felt the negative effects of stress in your body or did you learn something new today? Let me know in the comments below!