December is the time of year when many of us admit to feeling stressed about the holidays, family commitments and time constraints. This short-term stress is generally not a threat to our long-term health, although we may be affected by some sleepless nights, digestive upset resulting from overindulgence, and what may seem like never ending fatigue. However, it’s the unremitting chronic stress, especially in older or less healthy individuals, that can damage long term health and make us more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases. Some stress is unavoidable and triggered by stressors that come at us in many forms. There are biological stressors, environmental stressors, cognitive stressors, situational stressors, and lifestyle stressors. Our reactions to these stressors and how they affect us is what matters to our health and longevity.
A national poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Heath showed that one in four Americans say they are under a great deal of stress and half reported experiencing a major stressful event during the past year. The poll showed that although most of us deal with stress daily, those in poor health reported the highest levels of stress. Adults living with a disability or a chronic illness reported that managing their disease was a major cause of their distress. There’s no question that managing stress can be overwhelming. More than half of those reporting high levels of stress say spending time with family and friends provided the most relief. However, failure to address chronic stress can be very costly, affecting not only health, but the health of family and social relationships and financial wellbeing.
Many may not realize that health and longevity is dependent upon maintaining a constant state of homeostasis. Homeostasis can be defined as any number of biological processes the body uses to maintain the complex equilibrium necessary for survival, such as body temperature and blood levels of oxygen, water, protein, fat, salt and sugar. As well, the body must maintain relatively stable homeostasis while under the adverse effects stressors. By definition, a stressor can be a chemical, biological, environmental or external stimulus or any event that triggers the stress response.
Acute stress is a survival mechanism, known as the “fight or flight” response that forces us to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. When under acute stress, the body quickly leaves the state of homeostasis in response to injury, fear or a dangerous situation. A healthy body returns to homeostasis when the risk is no longer present.
Traumatic stress occurs in response to a traumatic life threatening experience or helplessly witnessing an event as it happens. This type of stress can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder that is often seen in veterans returning from war zones, survivors of assault, or those who have lost their homes due to a fire or severe weather conditions.
Chronic stress is the result of the body’s inability to return to homeostasis. Though we may survive when homeostasis is under constant threat, we don’t necessarily thrive. Prolonged stress can keep adrenal hormones chronically elevated, causing the adrenals to struggle and ultimately paving the way for adrenal fatigue. Low adrenal function is often the result of prolonged stress, bringing about a sense of exhaustion and poor organ and bodily functions. When homeostasis is not maintained, it can negatively affect, not only energy levels, but carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, and fluid and electrolyte balance, as well as the proper function of the heart and cardiovascular system.
As a rule, the better your overall health, the easier it is to handle stress. Take the time to care for yourself during the holidays and year-round by getting proper amounts of sleep, eating a nutritious diet and exercising, which all support overall good health and wellbeing. Supplements specifically formulated to target the imbalances brought about by chronic stress can support homeostasis, aid adrenal function and provide the reliable support necessary for the maintenance of proper function and optimal health and vitality.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support adrenal function and overall wellness:
ADHS® by Biotics Research – This non-glandular adaptogenic herbal formulation is designed to support the adrenals and provide support for bodily functions when under stress. The formula contains vitamins, minerals and a proprietary herbal blend to aid the body in supporting homeostasis. Gluten free, vegetarian formulation.
Cortico-B5B6® by Metagenics® – This formula provides significant amounts of water-soluble B vitamins necessary for healthy adrenal hormone production and energy metabolism. A full-spectrum citrus bioflavonoid blend along with vitamin C provides potent antioxidant support. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Adaptogen, Q. by Quantum Nutrition Labs – This dynamic formulation provides quantum-state nutraceutical blends that support the entire adaptogenic process, including whole body stress support. Gluten and lactose free, vegan formulation.
HPA Adapt by Integrative Therapeutics – This non-stimulant formula provides five powerful adaptogenic herbs to aid the body’s response to mental and physical stressors. HPA Adapt helps to reduce stress and fatigue, as well as improve mood, calm anxiety and provide support for cognitive function. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.
Stress and Health: Psychological, Behavioral and Biological Determinants. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2568977/
Concepts of Homeostasis and Stress. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/704866_2
For Many Americans, Stress Takes A Toll On Health And Family. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/07/07/323351759/for-many-americans-stress-takes-a-toll-on-health-and-family
What is homeostasis? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-homeostasis/
Stress. Psychology and Biology. https://www.britannica.com/topic/stress-psychology-and-biology
Stress and the Adrenals. http://blog.professionalsupplementcenter.com/stress-and-the-adrenals/