When our body is in acute stress mode, it produces a “fight or flight” response. The body’s response to this type of stress activates the sympathetic nervous system by a sudden release of hormones from the adrenal glands, adrenaline and noradrenaline. This response can happen with the threat of physical danger or a psychological threat (i.e., having to give a big presentation).
When stress occurs, many hormones are released such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, overproduction of glucose, glucagon, growth hormone, and the number one stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol has beneficial effects at normal levels and is produced to help control certain body functions. Cortisol prepares the body for the fight or flight response by stimulating extra glucose as energy for the large muscles. Cortisol slows insulin production to prevent glucose from being stored so it can be used right away. Cortisol narrows the arteries while the epinephrine increases heart rate, to help blood pump harder and faster. And after the initial threat is gone – the hormone levels drop back down to normal.
The problem occurs, when the cortisol hormone is constantly present in our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyles, which wreaks havoc on our health.
What is inflammation?
Stress can cause inflammation in the body, so we are going to first talk about what inflammation really is.
There are two main types of inflammation Acute vs. Chronic.
· Acute inflammation (also known as “healthy inflammation”) is a short-term defense mechanism. It is how your body responds to immediate damage to tissues and helps start the healing process. (i.e., when you get a cut or scrape, acute inflammation occurs when the white blood cells rush to the site and prevent damage from spreading to other tissues and fights off foreign invaders.)
· Chronic inflammation (also known as “unhealthy inflammation”) is long-term stress on the body and can cause widespread damage throughout the body and trigger a whole host of devastating conditions.
We will be focusing on discussing the effects of chronic inflammation and how this comes about in our bodies. Chronic inflammation occurs when the cells in our bodies are stressed by different factors both internal and external. It can also happen when the body thinks there is a foreign invader that really is not there.
When an inflammatory response like this is triggered and there is not a true foreign substance, the reaction stays there, it lingers around and wreaks havoc on the surrounding tissues and cells. Unfortunately, this type of response can linger around for a long time, going unnoticed. This is called “low-grade” chronic inflammation. Left untreated over time, chronic inflammation can create many significant threats to our bodies and minds (i.e., autoimmune diseases, cognitive decline (dementia), heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes, etc.)
Are you Chronically Inflamed? – Quiz:
1. Do you feel fatigued even when you have had sufficient sleep?
2. Do you experience bouts of “brain fog,” depression, anxiety on a regular basis?
3. Do you experience a lowered sex drive?
4. Do you feel like you are constantly getting sick and susceptible to seasonal illnesses (i.e. your immune system isn’t working like it should)?
5. Do you get frequent allergy symptoms?
6. Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder (i.e., Hashimoto’s, IBD, Arthritis, Lupus, etc.)?
7. Have you been told you have metabolic syndrome (i.e. your typical blood work results are off – blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, body measurements)?
8. Do your joints feel puffy or swollen, or do you feel bloated all over throughout the day?
9. Do you have digestive issues on a regular basis?
10. Do you have frequent skin breakouts or issues?
If you said yes to any of these questions, and especially if you said yes to many of these questions, then you are quite possibly experiencing chronic inflammation and your body has been trying to tell you this for a while.
This excerpt is from my book To Medicate or Not? That is the Question!
heal your body.
“Your body’s ability to heal is greater than anyone has permitted you to believe.”