Stress – Where is it hiding


Stress - Where is it Hiding?

Nutrition and exercise are one part of the weight loss and disease prevention puzzle piece. However, we often overlook factors like sleep, stress management, detoxification, and maximizing digestion. These are the ingredients for optimal health, long-term fat loss, and disease resistance. Each ingredient is dependent upon the others.

Managing stress and getting good quality sleep are in my opinion the 2 most overlooked behaviors when it comes to health. You can have the best diet, exercise religiously and take all the right supplements but if you’re over stressed or not sleeping well you will still experience suboptimal health, fatigue, weight gain and even put yourself at risk for many diseases.

A lot of debate can be spent on whether or not the paleo/ancestral diet is right or not but we cannot argue that biologically, we are not that different from our Paleolithic ancestors.  How we live today is completely different….thank goodness. I’m very grateful to have running water, heat that isn’t generated by just fire, in addition to all of our other modern luxuries.

We have to consider that contemporary living is an unnatural act. Many of us are overworked and completely unrested—and it shows. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors worked an average of 17 hours a week. When they weren’t attending to matters of survival, they were hanging out in their community, looking after offspring and resting!

In these modern times, stress has rooted itself deeply within the core of human culture. It affects almost everyone and it strips us of our time, sense of community, and peace of mind. Rather than relax, actually communicate as intended, and take part in fulfilling hobbies we willfully participate in the everyday rat race consumed with debt, drama, and self-deprecation.

Don’t believe me? According to the American Institute of Stress, it is estimated that 75%-90% of chronic health conditions are related to stress. We also overlook where stress comes from which underestimates how much stress we are all truly under. For instance, I think we are all aware of financial, mental and emotional stress of everyday life. Did you know that stress can be hiding in other places? The list below describes some of these hidden stressors ….

 

  • Physical – overtraining, structural imbalances, pain, inflammation
  • Digestive – bacterial/fungal overgrowth, parasites, food sensitivities, etc.
  • Chemical – toxic cleaning/ personal care items, air pollution, pesticides
  • Nutritional – poor food quality, inappropriate macronutrient ratios, excessive sugar
  • Lifestyle– not getting enough sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking

 

To help put this in further perspective; stress is deeply rooted in our survival back when we did live in caves. If it wasn’t for cortisol, the hormone produced by stress, the fate of the human race would be in question.

 

Scenario- caveman sees a lion and chases after it for food…or maybe it was the other way around. Caveman is being chased by a lion. Either way the stress response is the same which is FIGHT or FLIGHT aka…DO or DIE.

 

This causes a cascade hormonal reaction that’s essential for survival, catching or escaping prey:

           – Increase Cortisol & Adrenaline

           – Increase heart rate & blood flow to extremities, to make you stronger & faster

           – Decrease Digestion & Metabolism, priortize for surival 

 

Okay, so now that the caveman escaped from the lion or caught his meat for the week he returns to his family, back to the cave and rest. Hormones go back to normal and it may be another week until this fight or flight scenario occurs again.

 

Here’s the modern day scenario…. Women juggles full time job and family, may be financially stressed as well, runs two days a week and takes part in weekend warrior-like activities throughout the weekend because it “helps her de-stress.” Plus she can’t seem to lose those last extra 10lbs, especially around her mid-section. Oh yea, and she can’t kick the sugar cravings. 


In the simplest explanation, we are merely under chronic stress. And many of our de-stressing activities are fueling the fire. We are constantly putting out cortisol and just when our bodies think we’re safe, we go out on a binge drinking night on the town or decide to run a half marathon. Boom! An explosion of cortisol erupts and guesse what? Come Sunday or Monday we can barely function and we’re tired beyond belief.


This is just scratching the surface of the impact stress has on our life. By all means, I don’t want people skipping out on activities like hanging out with friends or exercising. What I do think is important is take a look at the stress variables you CAN control as well as listening to your body when a day of rest may be more beneficial than going for an intense workout.

 

Let’s revisit the list of contributing stressors…

  • Physical – overtraining, structural imbalances, pain, inflammation
  • Digestive – bacterial/fungal overgrowth, parasites, food sensitivities, etc.
  • Chemical – toxic cleaning products and personal care items, air pollution, pesticides
  • Nutritional – poor food quality, inappropriate macronutrient ratios, excessive sugar
  • Lifestyle-not getting enough sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking
  • Mental/Emotional – relationships, family, illness
  • Financial– bills, debt, wor
  • Existential – lacking a purpose in life, not living your passion


Out of this list,
which factors can you have better control over? Seriously think about this!

Stay tuned! Again, awareness is the first step.