How stress flips your body’s disease switch

In our modern world, we treat living with stress as a normal phenomenon.

“I’m just stressed right now” is a phrase uttered so often, and with such indifference, that we may as well be making a comment on the weather.

Yet, stress can lead to everything from digestive issues to heart problems.

And, new research is once again demonstrating that living with chronic stress kills you… if you let it.

Brain inflammation and gut dysfunction

A study, performed at Hokkaido University in Japan in collaboration with researchers in Germany found that chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions and even sudden death via a previously unknown neural circuit.

Putting mice under unrelenting stress revealed that living this way results in pathogenic cells (disease-causing cells) crossing the blood-brain barrier at specific sites and causing inflammation in the central nervous system — including the brain and spinal cord.

The researchers found that this transfer of cells caused micro-inflammation in the brain around specific blood vessels, and the inflamed sites then released a small molecule called ATP that switched on a nerve pathway that is normally turned off.

This switch led to gut dysfunctions, bleeding and failure. Also, the bleeding led to increased levels of potassium in the blood — a major factor leading to heart failure.

Now, you’re no mouse — but if life has you feeling like you’re trapped on the “hamster wheel” of stress, take heed…

That chronic stress you think is just a part of life you have to accept, can cause your stomach to bleed, your body to shut down and give you a heart attack!

5 ways to de-stress and live longer and healthier

Considering that remaining stressed out doesn’t just leave you anxious and disturb your sleep but can kill you, it’s vital that you learn the best ways to relieve the stress in your everyday life.

Below you’ll find a handful of ways ways to calm your mind and body, overcome anxiety and live stress-free. Choose the one that works best for you and fits your lifestyle and practice it daily.

#1 — Just breathe

Deep breathing exercises slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and calm your mind.

To perform these stress-relieving techniques, sit up straight and close your eyes. Slowly inhale through your nose and envision the air you are breathing in as crystal clear and cool. You want to focus on filling up your entire chest with air.

As you slowly exhale, imagine the air going out as dark and hot. Slowly repeat the process until all of the dark air has left your body.

Perform these exercises for 3 – 5 minutes at least 1 – 2 times per day. Here’s a great video on breathing stress out and energy in.

#2 — Meditate

Meditation is a simple technique that allows you to be present in the moment and slow down your mind and body

If you haven’t practiced meditation before, don’t be intimidated. The process is very straightforward.

Just sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in a chair with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting, either out loud or silently, a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.”

As you say the words, place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. If you get distracted, let those distracting thoughts float away.

You can meditate for as little as 2- 3 minutes or as long as you like. Just be sure to practice it daily to achieve the best stress-busting results.

Do you need help choosing a mantra? Here are 5 healing mantras that can change your life.

#3 — Shake it off

Exercise is one of the best ways to overcome stress and dancing is a great form of exercise.

Each day, spend a few minutes shaking your groove thing to your favorite minutes. The key is to lose yourself to the music and dance like no one can see you. You’ll be surprised by how relaxed you feel after you’ve danced it out.

If you enjoy dancing, you’ll want to know that you can dance your way to a healthier self-image, dance your pain away and dance your way to wellness.

#4 — Tune in

Listening to your body is a vital part of maintaining your health.

Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and focus in on how your body is feeling. Start at your toes and work your way up your body, finding the points of stress. Maybe your neck is tight or you feel yourself clenching your hands.

Let each point of stress you find relax and feel it seeping out of your pores. This is a great exercise to do in the evenings, as you’ll find the relaxation helps you drift off to sleep better.

#5 — Zap stress with nutrition

The affect stress has on the body is similar to the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome. A variety of mood-boosting foods can help you keep your stress levels in check, including:

  • Foods high in B12 like grass-fed beef, eggs, salmon, sardines, chicken and cheese since low levels of B12 are also linked to depression.
  • Foods high in omega-3s like salmon, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds and spinach. Several studies have shown that omega-3s can alleviate symptoms of PTSD like anxiety, depression and increased heart rate.
  • Foods high in vitamin D like salmon, trout, eggs and mushrooms. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression and PTSD.

Now that you know the damage stress is doing to your body, take control of it in your life and use the four tips above to say goodbye to chronic stress and live longer and healthier.

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Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.