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Fitness & Wellness

The Role Stress Hormones Play In Health And Illness

When man lived in caves, stress hormones were extremely important for to remain alive. They prepared early man to flee or fight if necessary. Today, stress hormones also play a role in good health, but they also play a major role in illness when left unattended. Blood pressure increases, the flow of blood to extremities and away from non-essential smooth muscles like the digestive system occurs. Returning the level of stress hormones back to normal would involve running or fighting, but today’s stresses don’t call for either, so they remain causing damage to the body.

Stress and the change caused by stress can affect your health dramatically.

Most doctors now recognize the symptoms of diseases and conditions caused by stress. In fact, it’s estimated that about three fourths of all doctor visits come from stress related ailments. If you had statistics on all the people in America, you’d find that about half of the adult population has a stress related disease. Some of those conditions or diseases would include high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. It increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, asthma, headaches, backaches and gastrointestinal problems. It causes aging to accelerate and premature death.

The hormones of stress are necessary if you’re in real physical danger, but you need to burn them off if you have only mental stress.

You need the hormones of stress, but if you don’t run or fight, you also need to burn them off and get back to normal. If you don’t, it can shut down your immune system or damage it, leaving you open to all illness and disease. It can leave an opening for cancer and bacterial or viral disease, since the immune system plays a role in fighting it.

It’s not always easy to get rid of stress, but you can do something about burning off the hormones and getting back to normal.

When you workout hard, your body is often mimicking the things you might be doing if you were running or fleeing. The changes that were made by the hormones start to return to normal when the workout is near the end. Not only that, your body starts to produce hormones that make you feel good, adding another benefit to the list for exercising. You can learn ways to help control stress, like meditation and deep breathing exercises, but for most people working out regularly provides the biggest benefits.

  • If you’re under stress, you may gain weight. Ancient stressful times often included food scarcity. We may be internally wired to eat as much as possible even when not hungry because of that. One study showed people who were under stress ate 40 percent more than normal.
  • Stress shortens the telomeres that protect chromosomes. That means fewer replications and earlier cell death. It leads to premature aging and affects muscles, skin vision and all other parts of the body.
  • Stress can trigger tension movements, like tooth grinding. That’s linked with broken or worn teeth and periodontal disease.
  • Stress leaves you with a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach. It can lead to anxiety and depression, beside putting you in a bad mood. Taking a walk or working out can break that cycle.

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