Adults, teens and children are living with higher levels of stress, as well as chronic stress than ever before. Granted, life was always stressful for people, no matter the time in history. But modern lifestyles in the Western world are rife with stressors that did not exist until recently.
Physicians and the medical community know that “stress” is a factor responsible for numerous disease states and lack of well-being. Approximately 75 percent of all doctor visits are to find relief for ailments and discomforts caused by stress.
When we encounter a stressful event or anxious situation, the body releases cortisol and plasma lactate, which are stress hormones. As the situation continues, so too does the release of these hormones, which flood the body and cause insomnia, headaches and increase blood pressure. Stress is physical and psychological, and at times we experience both. Chronic acute stress causes extended release of cortisol, and can also suppress the “feel good” hormone, serotonin. And stress can contribute to infertility via immunoednocrinological disturbances.
Chronic stress can affect every organ and system in the body. In the brain, it can suppress short-term and contextual memory, and disrupt healthy endocrine response. It can also suppress the immune system, increasing susceptibility of colds and flu, and trigger autoimmune responses (eg, psoriasis flareups, IBS flareups); and chronic stress is known to be a significant risk factor of developing heart disease and cardiometabolic dysfunction. Constant elevated cortisol causes increased belly fat, which in itself is a factor in metabolic syndrome.
Healthy Stress Management
One meta-analysis (Vavogli, Darviri, Health Science Journal; www.hsj.gr) reviewed self-relaxing techniques such as autogenic training, relaxation response, biofeedback, guided imagery, diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing), and Transcendental Meditation™. Each technique was found via review of studies, to be very helpful in reducing the original symptoms of high stress (eg, headaches, high blood pressure, dysthymia, insomnia, anxiety, and more).
According to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org), whichever relaxation technique fits you best, you may achieve the following benefits:
- Slowing heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Improving digestion
- Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
- Reducing activity of stress hormones
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration and mood
- Improving sleep quality
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
B vitamins are the “stress buster” vitamins, and when dealing with chronic stress, or acute stress from a life situation, increase B vitamin intake. One double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial focusing on occupational stress (job/workplace stress) involved 60 participants who took either a high-dose vitamin B complex or placebo for three months. The researchers found that the B vitamin group experienced lower personal strain and a reduction in depressed/dejected mood and confusion compared to the placebo group. (Sough, et al. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011 Oct;26(7):470-6)
Cortisol is a biochemical that wreaks all kinds of havoc when unchecked and allowed to remain at relatively abnormal, high levels. It is released in response to stress. Tongkat ali (LJ100®) is an herb that has been scientifically validated to improve stress hormone profile and certain mood state parameters, which essentially protects the human organism from the negative impact of chronic stress. In a clinical research published on Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013, 63 subjects (32 men and 31 women) with moderate stress were supplemented with 200mg of LJ100® or Placebo for 4 weeks. Significant improvements were found in the LJ100® group for Tension (−11%), Anger (−12%), and Confusion (−15%). Stress hormone profile (salivary cortisol and testosterone) was significantly improved by TA supplementation, with reduced cortisol exposure (−16%) and increased testosterone status (+37%).
An ingredient known as CitruSlim (a proprietary blend of citrus flavanone-O-glycosides from Bergamot and eurypeptides from Tongkat ali, or LJ100®, that can promote an anabolic state, reduce cortisol) has been shown to help support and balance mood during a stressful period – losing weight. In one trial, participants taking CitruSlim® showed better overall mood profile and energy levels in six weeks, while following a healthy weight-loss lifestyle regimen.
Unfortunately, stress exists and can bedevil anyone. Recognizing where it comes from and how it affects you are the first steps, then finding the right techniques along with adjusting diet along with engaging in moderate exercise, plus the right supplementation will go a long way to minimizing its effects. The best side effect of stress management is feeling great!