Welcome back to our two-part blog about stress and how it can physically affect your health and, therefore, inhibit the efforts you’re making with your nutritionist or health coach. It’s important to respond to stress properly, lest it is permitted to cause adverse effects that ripple throughout your entire life.

The Heart

The muscles of your heart strongly contract under stress, especially in short-term stressful situations like meeting a deadline or slamming on your brakes to avoid collisions. This will release cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline while your blood vessels that deliver oxygen to your large organs expand to deliver those components faster and more efficiently. This will elevate your blood pressure, which can contribute to long-term damage to your heart and blood vessels. These will increase the likelihood of having strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension. It’ll contribute to inflammation of your circulatory system and spiked cholesterol levels.

Digestive Tract:

For stress eaters, you may actually be damaging your esophagus while tipping that scale in the wrong direction. Eating more will increase your acid production and, therefore, your acid reflux, which will damage that esophagus of yours. Other “stress-relievers” like alcohol and tobacco are going to promote that nasty heartburn and the resulting acid reflux crawling up your throat to damage your throat. Plus, that diarrhea or constipation that’s set off by nothing is probably stress too; it takes a major toll on all your gastrointestinal organs.

Reproductive systems:

Chronic stress can lessen sperm production, testosterone and can cause impotence and erectile dysfunction in men. High levels of stress in women can cause irregular menstrual cycles. It’ll make that PMS even worse than usual with a higher rate of fluid retention, bloating, mood swings and more frequent cramping (muscle spasms/ tensing). This is all due to heightened releases of cortisol which acts as a natural depressant to the entire body.

How to Cope:

The number one recommendation from both your nutritionist and your doctor is going to be eating healthier. All of those sugars and generally undesirable compounds in the junk food you’re stress eating are actually going to be making your hormones do even stranger things. These are going to send you into a tailspin headed straight for chronic stress symptoms which should be avoided at all costs. Exercising on a regular basis is a major stress fighter; it’s going to cause your body to release endorphins which is going to battle cortisol and other depressants that stress caused your body to release. The other thing to be cognizant of is getting enough sleep, that’s the time when your brain is soaked in the reboot chemicals that are going to help you combat those feelings of stress and depression that will slow you down on your road to good health and body maintenance.

Excited to get started on becoming a better you? Real Life Nutrition was created to help real people find plans that can help them become their best selves. Through a steady diet of motivation, good foods, and exercise, we’re hoping to get you to the point where daily stresses are easily shrugged off and dealt with in a way that will help you avoid the more unpleasant symptoms of chronic stress listed in our blog series. Feel free to contact us to get started on the new you just in time for the new year.