How stress harms the body and what to do about it

Approximately two-thirds of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related complaints. This is because the constant release of stress hormones damages the body in many ways. Commonly called the “fight or flight” response, the stress response increases blood pressure, makes your hands sweat, and quickens your heart rate and breathing. You’ve probably felt it during that big job interview, before a first date, during an argument, or being stuck in traffic when you’re running late.

Problems arise when stress is chronic and unrelenting, such as financial worries, major life changes, job stress, an ongoing illness, or a bad relationship. Other sources of chronic stress include poor gut health, food intolerances, low blood sugar, pre-diabetes or diabetes, anemia, autoimmune disease, inflammation, and environmental toxins.

It’s no wonder health conditions caused by chronic stress are so common today!

How stress damages the body

Chronic stress is linked to:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • suppressed immunity
  • insulin resistance
  • increased belly fat
  • reduced libido
  • bone loss
  • low energy
  • heart problems

Other symptoms of chronic stress include ongoing fatigue, energy crashes, difficulty recovering from long days or stressful events, headaches, difficulty falling and staying asleep, difficulty waking up, mood swings, sugar and caffeine cravings, irritability, lightheadedness between meals, eating to relieve fatigue, dizziness upon standing, gastric ulcers, and symptoms of low thyroid function.

Adrenal adaptogen supplements help buffer the damages of stress

By now, most of us know meditation, exercise, enjoying hobbies, and socializing are ways to reduce stress.

One helpful way to buffer the damage of stress is to take adrenal adaptogens. These are herbs that support healthy adrenal function and help regulate the body’s stress response. Adrenal adaptogens include panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng (eleuthero), astragalus, rhodiola, ashwagandha, licorice root, holy basil (tulsi) and schizandra.

In addition to soothing inflammation and increasing energy and brain function, these herbs help the body and brain cope with stress.

Other smart tools to protect you from the damage of stress

There are other ways to reduce stress. For example, phosphatidylserine can help normalize stress hormone levels and protect the brain from the damages of stress.

Below are lifestyle suggestions to help support a healthy stress response:

  • Avoid or greatly minimize stimulants such as caffeine.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods.
  • Avoid high carbs and sugars.
  • Avoid dietary sources of inflammation, such as food allergens, high fructose corn syrup, refined foods, and industrial seed oils such as canola oil.
  • Ensure adequate intake of essential fatty acids (DHA and EPA).
  • Get enough sleep.

Though we may live in a world of unrelenting stress, it is possible to help the body manage its response to stress through a combination of healthy lifestyle habits and herbal adrenal support.

For more information on how to identify and manage adrenal stress, contact our office.

Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
(904) 342-2783

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Dr. Tuchinsky

Dr. Tuchinsky has been “health coach” to thousands of local residents. He has been a popular author and lecturer and has been featured in print media and local TV.