How Stress May be Impacting Your Health Goals

For those of you who don’t know, cortisol is our stress hormone and you may want to learn How Stress May be Impacting Your Health Goals. When we are stressed our bodies go into what is called a fight-or-flight response and when this happens a whole host of negative things can happen when we are in a constant state of stress. However, it’s important to note that cortisol is still an important hormone in our bodies but it becomes an issue when we are constantly stressed.  

I am not going to sugarcoat it. To reduce cortisol and minimize the negative impacts it can have on your body, stress management is KEY! You may be thinking “how the heck and I am going to be less stressed?!” and I get it - stress is something that is hard to avoid. With that being said, implementing stress management tools that work for YOU throughout the day that is simple, is a good place to start. 

Some examples may include:

  • Writing in a gratitude journal every morning and/or evening to start and end your day on a positive note. It can be too easy to focus on the bad stuff that happened during the day instead of all the positive things. Sometimes it can be as simple as being thankful for family, your morning coffee, or your comfy bed. 
  • Along this line, journaling is another way to help manage stress. Some people find it therapeutic to get stuff down on paper. 
  • Meditation. Although it’s not for everyone, I recommend you give it a try for a few times before deciding whether or not you like it because it can be HARD as a bigger and even seasoned pros have bad days. 
  • Sleep. I know this may sound basic but many of us are simply lacking adequate amounts of sleep which can contribute to stress throughout our days. 
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great way to increase endorphins!
  • Getting outside. Walking barefoot, getting vitamin D and just breathing in fresh air is a simple way to manage stress. Even if you can get outside during your lunch break and go for a quick walk, that may help decrease stress. 
  • Eat whole foods! Yes, the foods we eat greatly impact our stress. Decreasing your intake of sugar and stimulants is a good place to start. 
  • Even making the time to do things you love even if that is watching reality TV, reading a book, spending time with a friend, going out for dinner. 

So how much is it impacting your health goals?

  1. Digestion. This is so key and I cannot stress it enough. The mind-gut connection is something that gets overlooked but the state of our mind can greatly impact our ability to digest and assimilate nutrients. If we aren’t assimilating and absorbing nutrients properly, we aren’t going to achieve optimal health. Many people with IBS do experience high levels of stress and may experience flare ups during times where stress is higher.
  2. Hormonal health. Increased levels of stress can impact your menstrual cycle, libido, fertility and more. 
  3. Weight. Many people who are stressed hold on to unwanted weight and generally speaking, make poorer health choices. 
  4. Blood sugar. Glucose tolerance may be impacted during high periods of stress. 
  5. May increasing your risk of chronic diseases 
  6. Impacts your immune function and makes it harder to fight off colds but even more serious diseases like cancer 

If you are experiencing high levels of stress and think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue then more specific dietary recommendations and supplementation may be helpful. For those of your who aren’t familiar adrenal fatigue is when “...the adrenal glands are exhausted and unable to produce adequate quantities of hormones, primarily cortisol, due to chronic stress or infections” (1)

The problem with adrenal fatigue is that it is a relatively new concept so there is still a lot of research that needs to be done around it. The common symptoms are as follows (2): 

  • Hair loss
  • Brain fog
  • Skin issues
  • Mood disorders and imbalanced
  • Decreased libido
  • Lack of sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Hormone imbalances
  • And more!! 

Some common ways adrenal fatigue is managed is through:

  • Decreasing processed foods and refined sugars
  • Decreasing intake of stimulants
  • Decreasing intake of alcohol
  • Increasing intake of healthy fats
  • Increasing intake of foods rich in B vitamins or taking a supplement
  • Supplementing with antioxidants such as vitamin C 
  • Supplementing with adaptogens such as ashwagandha, cordyceps and more. 

Sources: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrenal_fatigue
  2. https://draxe.com/health/endocrine-system/3-steps-to-heal-adrenal-fatigue/

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