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How Stress Affects Your Body - Which phase are you?

Our digestive system is ruled by our nervous system which rules our stress response. It does one job at a time. It is either in

  • Fight/flight/freeze mode - Do we stand and fight or run

  • Rest & digest - where we need it to be

When it is not in rest and digest, or is in fight/flight/freeze for to long, this is when all your digestion problems start. You may notice indigestion, heartburn, GERD, constipation, diarrhea, lack of nutrient absorption, there may be weight gain or weight loss.

We have 3 phases that the body goes through

Phase one

The stress is identified, the alarm reactor starts, the adrenals prepare to fight & release adrenalin and noradrenalin which in turn stops digestion but increases blood to the brain and muscles, then heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and sweating increases. Blood glucose levels elevate for energy which cause inflammation so cortisol is released. Your pain perception is down, fear is increased and can cause anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, shortness of breath and hyperventilation.

If the threat is either withdrawn or determined to be achievable the body will return to its calm state where rest and digest can take place.

Phase two

If we don't reach calm in stage one, our body enters phase two where the stressor is still noted and is continuing so the coping mechanisms and resistance is continued. The body is still elevated from stage one, blood pressure is still high, blood sugars increase to keep energy up, sexual desire decrease, periods can cease, pain perception is still down, and wounds and infections can take longer to heal as high cortisol keeps the immune system suppressed. The body retains fluid, inflammation is still high, metabolism is increased and increase feelings of anxiety. You will not feel as tired and insomnia is getting term.

Then if that is not enough, then the body get to

Phase three

This is where the body has reached the exhausted stage. The body and its resources are depleted. Blood pressure remain high, energy is depleted, hormones are exhausted, the immune system is unable to function correctly, digestive issues have increased and are more persistent, some organ may even shut down. Disease range from allergies/intolerances, ulcers, weight issues, digestive problems, hormone imbalances, mood swings, to the more serious of health problems, like heart health, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, auto-immune to even cancers.

So what can you do

Well firstly it helps to identify where your stress is coming from. Is it from food or is it from life.

When you find the cause, it may be one, it may be several, you need to remove it and any aggravating factors if you can

  • Help make and take positive action, thinking and talking negative keeps us stressed

  • Change the situation, change yourself, or leave the situation

  • Try not to sweat the small stuff, learning to let go is good for you

  • Check for food intolerances, either through testing or through food elimination diets

  • Remove processed foods and eat a diet full of wholefoods, trying to incorporate each color of the rainbow giving you a variety of different nutrients

  • Drink enough fluids each day, removing coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks

  • Sleep at least eight hours a night. The body rests, repairs and detoxes while we sleep. The adrenals love a good sleep in at the weekend.

  • Move your body. It is important to choose the right kind of exercise for you. Don't go hard out, something nice and tranquil like yoga or tai chi, or walking with a friend are great.

  • Life is supposed to be enjoyed, so pick up that hobby that you really liked doing.

  • and lastly get it out on paper. When you write your thoughts down, it gets them out of your head so having a diary is great for many people.


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