First, let’s explore how stress affects the body:
When we’re stressed, our bodies react by producing what’s called a “fight or flight” response. This essentially means that our bodies want to protect us from whatever stressor is present by giving us the energy to either flee or fight in the face of danger. This is great in scenarios when the threat is imminent, like if you see a bear while hiking. You know that jittery, nervous feeling where your heartbeat is a little faster and your breath is a little shorter? Without digging too deep into the science, this is essentially your adrenal glands sending hormones throughout your body so you can react. This burst of energy helps us respond in the moment and once we’re safe again, our bodies regulate and the nervous system slows down. This is a perfectly natural response when the trigger is a bear; but what about in the modern, everyday world, when we’re faced with stressors constantly? From important deadlines, to financial burdens, to personal struggles, and the occasional global pandemic (you truly never know anymore) it seems like stress is constantly at the forefront. Our nervous system doesn’t often have much time to rest or restore between responses and many of us are left struggling with chronic stress or anxiety.
When this happens, the body’s priority is taken away from supporting other systems, like the digestive system and immune system. Instead, it puts its focus on protecting us from the stressors, even when most of the time we’re in no real danger.
One of the great things about the modern world, is that we are really starting to recognize the link between the mind and the body. Thankfully, there are also several things you can do to support your body and reduce the strain from chronic stress or anxiety.
Step One: Adrenal Support
Our adrenal glands are responsible for sending hormones throughout the body so everything is communicating and responding as it should. One of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands is cortisol. Before we talk about supporting the adrenals, let’s first talk about what cortisol is and what it does in the body.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is one of the hormones that’s fired off during our “flight or fight” response, in addition to adrenaline. It’s also responsible for regulating blood sugar, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. Contrary to popular belief, producing too little of this hormone is just as harmful as producing too much. It’s all about finding that delicate balance.
Now that we know what cortisol does, let’s talk about the effects of producing too much. In addition to the chronic stress we touched on earlier, it also leaves the adrenal glands overworked. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, like fatigue, irritability, cravings for salty and sweet treats, relying on caffeine to get you through the day, anxiety, headaches and difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
The best way to support your adrenals is, you guessed it, limiting stress. Given the world we live in, this isn’t always possible so it’s wise to lean on a blend of vitamins and herbs that will support the health of your adrenal glands. Our adrenal adapt add-on is a blend of:
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid 400 mg
- Vitamin B5 (as Calcium Pantothenate) 150 mg
- Rhodiola Rosea (3% Rosavins) 150 mg
- Siberian Ginseng 0.8% 250 mg
- Ashwagandha Root Extract 200 mg
These vitamins and herbs are all absolute powerhouses when it comes to protecting and supporting your adrenal glands.
Step Two: Immune System Support
As noted earlier, body systems work most optimally when they are working in harmony with one another. So if your endocrine system isn’t performing as well as it should, it can also impact your immune system, which may then impact your digestive system and the cycle goes on.
While getting to the root cause is key, there are still things you can do to directly support the immune system and give it an extra boost. When it comes to lifestyle, focusing on eliminating toxins, like cigarette smoke, food additives, sugar, and alcohol is crucial. These can all have a negative impact on your immune system because it can cause inflammation and hinder the production of cells produced by the immune system.
Getting adequate sleep and consuming a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will help to support the immune system. Vitamin C has been a go-to for years when supporting the immune system and for good reasons. It’s a powerful antioxidant and can help to protect the body against pathogens. Zinc is another key player in supporting immune function as this mineral is responsible for the production of natural killer cells that destroy foreign invaders in our bodies. Vitamin E is also a great antioxidant that may give the immune system an extra boost.
Step Three: Reducing Inflammation
When it comes to supporting and protecting the body, reducing inflammation can play a big role. Keep in mind, as previously mentioned, cortisol is responsible for regulating inflammation in the body. Inflammation occurs as a reaction to trauma, toxins and bacteria present in the body. The immune system will release what’s called pro-inflammatory cytokines to eliminate these foreign invaders. The cytokines will usually help to remove the invaders and dissipate, but simply put, chronic stress or anxiety, may create a vicious cycle and lead to chronic inflammation.
Turmeric is one of the most widely used herbs that may support in reducing inflammation. Ginger and spirulina are other great additions that may reduce inflammation and boost immune function when trying to combat the strain of chronic stress.
Step Four: Coping with Stress and Anxiety
It all comes full circle, and while supporting your body systems directly is necessary, taking steps to get to the root cause is the most fundamental step. It’s important to be as candid as possible with practitioners about your lifestyle and level of stress so they can have a full picture of what’s really going on when creating protocols and giving you recommendations.
If you think stress or anxiety is impacting your immune system, adrenals, digestion or other body systems, there are many steps you can take. Our biggest tip: slow down. It’s okay to take a break and it’s more than okay to be patient with yourself. Give yourself the same grace you give others.
Exercise will also support in regulating cortisol levels. If your adrenals are overtaxed it’s important to go slow. Find movement daily in the form of a walk, yoga or pilates, but avoid HIIT or Metcon style workouts as this can trigger a stress response. Finding a meditation or gratitude practice can also help to regulate stress levels in the body. You can also check out our blog about destressing for even more tips.
It’s important to give your body the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to cope with stress. Adaptogens are amazing because, like the name says, it helps your body to adapt to stressors. They can be used for both energy as well as relaxation. Some great adaptogens to choose from:
Nervines may help to support the nervous system directly and reduce stress levels. Chamomile and lemon balm both may promote relaxation and limit the effects of stress and anxiety. Supplementing with these before bed can also help to promote a deeper sleep.
Staying healthy and limiting stress go hand in hand. There’s no doubt that stress can often be the underlying factor in many diseases and can lead to compromised subsystems within the body. Supporting these systems and limiting stress may support your overall wellbeing and thankfully, there are so many things you can lean on to elevate your health, both mentally and physically.
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