What is stress?

Stress is primarily a physical response. When you are stressed, your body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals to prepare your body for physical action.

Your heart rate is increased and sugar is poured into your bloodstream to provide immediate energy. This was very important thousands of years ago when we needed to fight or run from danger but now the stressors that the body encounters are somewhat different.

The stress response has not evolved to keep up with modern day constant stressors and therefore the physical response remains the same.

In today’s world we are all under constant stress having to deal with modern day life and all it throws at us. This can be very demanding and damaging to your body.

My aim in this blog post is to explain what stress does to you so that you can better understand why you need to get a handle on it.

I want to help your body and mind cope better with a busy modern lifestyle, providing advice to help you regain an inner sense of calm and a healthier more balanced stress response. Click here to learn more about my Stress and Anxiety workshop.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress affects your health, there is no getting away from it.

According to GP and TV presenter Dr Chaterjee, an astonishing 70-90% of his patients problems can be attributed to stress.

The problem we have is that the majority of us just don’t know how damaging it is as we are programmed to keep calm and carry on!

Could stress be damaging your health?

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  1. Struggle getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  2. Low libido?
  3. Irregular periods (women only!)?
  4. Frequently ill with colds and coughs?
  5. Chest pains?
  6. Headaches/migraines?
  7. Rely on alcohol as a relaxant?
  8. Struggle with anxiety or panic attacks?
  9. Upper back and neck pain?
  10. Feel tired and wired?
  11. Struggling to get pregnant or fertility issues?
  12. Constipation or loose bowel movements?
  13. Carry fat around your middle and struggle to lose weight?
  14. High blood pressure?

If you have answered yes to 2 or more of the above then you could do with some stress support. Think about taking some time for yourself to put things in place to help with your stress levels. My half day workshop will provide you with just that, click here for more information.

But why is chronic stress so bad?

  1. Adrenal glands release cortisol causing feelings of anxiety, long term stress can lead to chronic anxiety, unnecessary worry and fears.
  2. Blood sugar rises, causing insulin levels to spike resulting in weight gain. Insulin is our fat storage hormone.
  3. Continued stimulation of insulin can result in type 2 diabetes.
  4. It increases blood pressure increasing the risk of heart disease.
  5. Increased ageing due to the lowering effect that cortisol has on the anti-ageing hormone DHEA.
  6. The immune system is weakened which means you are less able to fight infection and more open to viruses and bacteria.
  7. Inflammation markers increase and inflammation is the root cause of many diseases.
  8. Your mood can yo yo and over time can lead to depression.
  9. Irregular bowel movements can be an issue particularly constipation or loose stools.
  10. Skin issues can flare up such as hives, eczema or psoriasis

Do you experience weight gain around the middle and struggle to shift it?

Stress and weight gain…yes it’s a thing and generally it targets the middle waist line….aka muffin top! So let’s break the science down as to why?

In a perceived stressful situation, cortisol increases levels of fat and sugar into the bloodstream so that you have the fuel to react to the stressor.

However, unless you do something physical (as your body is expecting you to such as running away from a tiger) all that extra energy, in the form of fat and glucose has nowhere to go and must simply be redeposited as fat.

After a stressful event, your body thinks it should refuel and so your appetite increases. This is perfectly acceptable when you have been fighting or running for your life, however if you’ve been chained to a desk fielding off stressful phone calls, constant refuelling is hardly necessary.

There is nothing random in this fat allocation. The reason why fat targets your middle is because it is close to your liver where it can most quickly be converted back into energy if needed.

It provides you with a cunning, yet infuriating form of protection, ready for the next stress attack.

So if you are struggling with weight loss around your middle the first thing to get on top of is your stress levels and balancing your cortisol. Diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes can dramatically help with this.

Are you struggling to get pregnant or have suffered a miscarriage?

Stress can effect your fertility quite dramatically and is one of the reasons for an increase in miscarriages.

Let me explain – all of your hormones are made from the same starting block and you may be surprised to hear that that starting block is cholesterol.

Yes contrary to what the doctors tell you about cholesterol it is not bad and the body needs it. Every cell in the body is made from cholesterol too!

Anyway, back to the point, cortisol is a hormone just like the sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are too and they are ALL made from cholesterol.

When the body is in a state of stress the cholesterol to hormone production pathway is shunted towards cortisol and the amount of the other hormones produced are reduced.

The body thinks it is much more important to produce your fight or flight hormone because it thinks you are under attack and is therefore protecting you. Very clever but not actually the case anymore due to constant stress that we encounter in modern day life.

This upsets the hormone balance and if in a chronic state of stress can make it difficult to get pregnant and retain pregnancy.

There is a fabulous comprehensive hormone test you can do to see whether your hormones are balanced and where you may need support. I suggest this test to anyone thinking of trying for a baby as it is much better to prepare the body properly before so that you can retain the pregnancy too. It is easier to get pregnant than it is to retain and so a bit of prep work in the beginning can help to do just that. Just get in touch if you would like to know more or would like to have a free chat to find out how I can help.

Do you feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety? Do you want a simple natural approach to reducing stress and anxiety?

I am holding a half day workshop which offers you the opportunity to take time for yourself, to unwind and learn new ways to reduce stress and anxiety, of which you can take forward into your daily life.

The half day includes:

  • restorative yoga to calm the nervous system (perfect for beginners)
  • a short meditation practice
  • an introduction to the gut brain connection
  • fermented food workshop
  • holistic advice on reducing stress and anxiety (with your own plan to take away)
  • Q&A time
  • unlimited herbal teas and healthy snacks

Spaces are limited so please book early here to avoid disappointment.

For more information please email naomi@gutnutrition.co.uk or call 07850897304