Does stress affect your health?
By Sam Witter on 7th June, 2016
Good health isn’t just how fit you are or how good you look on the beach, health covers a wide range of areas and one area that has a significant effect on your overall health and well being is stress levels.
Stress is on the increase with day to day life becoming more hectic. Dealing with stress has become an inevitable part of life. In response, the body has an in-built hormonal trigger to help you deal with stressful situations known as the “fight or flight” response.
Cortisol is an extremely important hormone. It is considered one of the primary stress hormones. Cortisol is released within the body in response to stressful situations. If this stress persists over longer periods of time then many functions in the body become inhibited.
Cortisol also causes fat storage by instructing the body to store fat, especially around the front of the stomach hiding away those all important abs!!! Bone health and muscle tissue are affected, cardiovascular function may worsen and the thyroid can slow down. Also, over time cortisol can affect the regulation of the body’s sex hormones which can lead to infertility and a low sex drive. So all in all long term high stress levels are not good!
LINK TO ILLNESS
It has been estimated that 75 – 95 % of all doctor’s appointments are due to stress related illness. Higher than normal cortisol levels are linked with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity and depression to name just a few.
SO WHAT INFLUENCES CORTISOL LEVELS?
- Poor diet such as eating too many sugary, processed foods
- Psychological stress for example, worries about relationships and finances
- Lack of sleep – the body needs eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, if you get less than this the body releases cortisol
- Smoking – toxins from cigarettes cause damage to insulin receptors and increase cortisol output
- Alcohol consumption – excessive amounts of alcohol put the liver and body under stress
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE STRESS?
- Eating well – wholesome natural foods that the body is programmed to eat
- Reduce / Stop excessive drinking and smoking
- Get enough sleep – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is needed each night
- Have down time – it is important to have time where you switch off from work and the other stresses of life
- Take a magnesium supplement – magnesium is a natural relaxant that helps protect against the effect cortisol has on the body and also helps aid good quality sleep.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. The body needs cortisol to help it cope with stress but it is possible to reduce the amount of stress the body is exposed to with the tips above.