Tag Archives: Cortisol Calm by Pure Encapsulations

This Is Your Brain on Stress

BrainStressJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

 

 

 

When eight of ten Americans report feeling frequently stressed, one might wonder what’s causing so many to feel so stressed out. Per the American Psychological Association, there’s a significant percentage of Americans worried about the future of the country, followed by a high percentage who are worried about finances, work or family responsibilities. Almost half of Americans worry about healthcare, while a third find the economy, unemployment, high taxes and low wages worrisome. Three of four Americans report experiencing high levels of stress during the previous month, almost half have trouble sleeping, and one third feel chronically anxious, irritable or fatigued.

The National Institute of Mental Health simply defines stress as “the brain’s response to any demand.” Stress can be classified as acute (good), tolerable or chronic (toxic). Good stress can occur as the result of a single, short-term event, such as recovery from an illness or injury, or when we rise to a challenge, often with positive outcomes. Tolerable stress refers to a situation where one faces a difficult situation, but is able to cope with support of family, friends or others. Toxic or recurring stress can be the result of adverse life events not within our control, such as managing a chronic illness or dealing with an exceptionally demanding workload. When stress is both intense and sustained over a period to time, it becomes particularly problematic, as long-term stress can cause significant harm to normal and proper body and brain functioning.

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation to stress, as it perceives and determines what is threatening, as well as the behavioral and physiological responses to the stressor. Stress can cause an imbalance of neural circuitry affecting cognition, decision making, anxiety and mood. While it’s well known that chronic stress is detrimental to overall wellness, it now appears that long-term stress and stress related illnesses, such as post traumatic stress disorder, can actually change the physiology of the brain. This can negatively affect brain size, connectivity and mood, and quite possibly memory and cognition down the road. Simply put, persistent stress may actually rewire the brain, strengthening the part of the brain focused on survival and weakening the part of the brain tasked with more complex thought.

Often called the “stress” hormone because of its connection to the stress response, cortisol is actually a steroid hormone critical to protecting overall health and wellbeing. It plays a key role in the sleep/wake cycle, the maintenance of blood sugar levels, energy metabolism, sodium and water balance and blood pressure regulation, as well as the immune system’s inflammatory response. One of the primary functions of our many biological systems is the maintenance of  optimal balance or homeostasis. Cortisol aids the body in regaining homeostasis after a stressful event. As cortisol regulates a wide range of bodily processes, almost every cell contains cortisol receptors, including the hippocampus, the region of the brain where memories are processed and stored.

Normal cortisol levels have no adverse effects on the hippocampus, heavily associated with memory, emotion and learning. When chronically high cortisol levels overwhelm the hippocampus, atrophy and significant memory loss may result. Brain patterns may predict how the body physically reacts to stressful situations. Constant stress and the accumulation of stressful life events may make one more vulnerable to brain shrinkage when faced with future intense traumatic stressors, especially when the next demanding situation requires determination or emotional control. Studies have found that chronic stress has a negative impact on spatial memory, as well as memory retrieval. Additionally, an exaggerated stress response could mean a faster heartbeat and higher blood pressure, which can result in negative health consequences in the long run.

While not all stress is unhealthy or avoidable, taking steps to reduce persistent stress may protect brain health as one ages, as well as increase one’s ability to cope when the next stressful event occurs. Working to redirect behavior in more positive directions can help to promote wellness and enjoyment of life. Maximizing the time spent in a resting state can help address long-term elevation of stress-related biological factors. Finding ways to relax, prioritizing sleep, a healthy diet and moderate exercise, as well as social interaction can effectively reduce stress and help one feel more balanced and in control, as well as significantly promote overall health and happiness.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality formulations to help promote homeostasis and overall wellness:

Cortisol Manager™Cortisol Manager™ by Integrative Therapeutics®: This safe, non-habit forming product provides standardized proprietary blends to help stabilize cortisol levels, thereby supporting a more balanced cortisol response to stress, as well as natural restorative sleep. Gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, artificial flavor and artificial preservative free, vegan formulation.

 

HPA AdaptHPA Adapt™ by Integrative Therapeutics®: This non-stimulant formula combines five powerful adaptogenic herbs shown to support a healthy stress response, while reducing stress-related fatigue and mental tension. Gluten, wheat, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.

 

Cortisol CalmCortisol Calm by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula is designed to help maintain healthy cortisol levels, while supporting relaxation, restful sleep and positive mood during stressful times. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Advanced Cortisol...Advanced Cortisol Balance by Life Extension: This unique formulation features patented ingredients to support healthy cortisol levels, thereby promoting a healthy stress response, healthy mood and a sense of vigor. Non-GMO formulation.

 

Diurnal Cortisol...Diurnal Cortisol Test by Professional Supplement Center Test Kits: This four panel adrenal function hormone test kit provides a full diurnal cortisol profile at four points during the day. This test is recommended for stress, chronic fatigue and/or symptoms of adrenal imbalance. Saliva collection instructions, prepaid shipping and all materials for the test included, as well as a 15- minute in person or phone consultation with one of Professional Supplement Center’s health professionals to discuss test results.

References:
By the numbers: Our stressed-out nation. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/12/numbers.aspx
The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain. http://www.tuw.edu/content/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/
Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201402/chronic-stress-can-damage-brain-structure-and-connectivity
Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476783/
Effects of Chronic Stress on Memory Decline in Cognitively Normal and Mildly Impaired Older Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864084/
Neurobiological and Systemic Effects of Chronic Stress. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573220/
Protect Your Brain from Stress. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress

To Reduce Cravings – Address Stress

StressCravingsJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Stress can make it difficult to function normally, much less make healthy food choices. Inevitably, our overly stressed lives take a toll on emotional and physical health, often resulting in low energy, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, reduced immune function, and persistent uncontrollable food cravings. Eating unwholesome food occasionally is not likely to affect weight or overall health. Binging on one unhealthy food after another is a recipe for weight gain and ill health. Chronic stress that induces us to overeat can lead to increased abdominal fat and negate our will power to suppress unhealthy lifestyle choices.

When under acute stress, the brain triggers a release of chemicals, including adrenaline and cortisol to help manage any immediate threat. While threats we face today are markedly benign compared to the challenges confronting our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the neuroendocrine system functions much the same way as when we were hunting wild game or facing famine over a long winter. Today we may be anxious about work demands, family responsibilities, college tuition or any number of modern stressors, yet our brains still tell us to eat and store fat, as if we couldn’t just dial up a pizza or go to the local market and buy copious amounts of ice cream, chips and cookies to supply us for the long haul or a night in front of the TV.

While adrenaline wears off rather quickly, the stress hormone cortisol does not. Cortisol is essential to the maintenance of homeostasis, and under normal circumstances cortisol levels naturally fluctuate as we move through our day. Important to human nutrition, cortisol helps to regulate energy. It’s cortisol that signals the body to increase glucose and inhibit insulin production, supplying an immediate energy source during a stress driven event or trauma. With our constantly stressed lifestyles, our bodies continually pump out cortisol, and consistently produce glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

Insulin suppression essentially deprives our cells of energy supplying glucose, sending hunger signals to the brain resulting in overeating. Eventually stored as body fat, unused glucose can result in the buildup of very unhealthy fat stored deep within the abdomen where it surrounds our internal organs. This metabolically active visceral fat releases inflammation causing chemicals known as cytokines, which are linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. When the stress induced cycle of cortisol overproduction and binge eating continues, the body becomes increasingly taxed and unable to perform optimally. As systemic inflammation and elevated cortisol levels are interrelated, naturally decreasing inflammation should also lower cortisol levels.

Common sense guidelines for reducing stress include making a concerted effort to get more sleep, addressing emotional issues, modulating inflammation through diet, and participating in regular cardio, as well as relaxation exercises. When our reaction to stress rests solely on our own shoulders, how we choose to live our daily lives can either optimize our bodies’ stress response or have deleterious effects on our general health. While some level of stress is unavoidable, minimizing stressors by getting a handle on our triggers can reduce cortisol production to help the body normalize, return to homeostasis, and regain optimal health.

The following suggestions may help to minimize unhealthy food cravings by feeding your body what it might really need:

– If you are craving fried or fatty foods, try eating food that contains healthy fats, such as a small serving of raw unsalted nuts, olives or avocado.

– Cravings for simple carbs like bread, pizza or pasta may be a signal that your energy stores are running low. Simple carbs will spike blood sugar, providing a quick energy boost but may leave you hungry an hour later. Opt for high fiber whole grains like oatmeal or cereal that won’t spike blood sugar and will satisfy your hunger longer.

– If you are looking for a sweet treat, try reaching for a piece of whole fruit, full of fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. If you are craving something cold and sweet, opt for a good quality, low sugar, plain yogurt and top with your own fresh fruit or nuts.

– If you must have something salty, try steamed edamame with a bit of natural sea salt. Instead of chips or pretzels, opt for a small salad of tomatoes and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil.

– If you trying to keep hunger at bay, have a hardboiled egg. A hardboiled egg contains about 78 calories and will provide high quality protein and amino acids and satisfy your hunger.

– Just craving anything you can get your hands on? Thirst can often be confused with hunger. Try having a glass of water and see if you still feel hungry after 15 minutes.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support healthy cortisol levels and overall wellness:

Cortisol Manager™Cortisol Manager™ by Integrative Therapeutics – This standardized proprietary blend provides safe support for all day stress reduction and the natural ability to fall asleep. Gluten and dairy free, vegetarian, non-habit forming formulation.

 

Cortisol ManagementCortisol Management by Complementary Prescriptions – This product supplies patented proprietary blends of botanical extracts that help combat stress-related eating, aid concentration and mental clarity and provide relaxation without sedation.

 

Cortisol CalmCortisol Calm by Pure Encapsulations – This formula helps maintain healthy cortisol levels, and supports relaxation, restful sleep, and positive mood during stressful times. Gluten and soy free, non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Single Tests In...Single Test in Saliva Cortisol by ZRT Laboratory – This at-home saliva test kit allows for convenient timing of saliva collection especially for assessing cortisol levels. Prepaid shipping label included. Lab results are sent directly to you. Test kit includes 15 minute in person or telephone consultation with our registered nurse.

 

Diurnal Cortisol -...Diurnal Cortisol – Cx4 by ZRT Laboratory – This four-stage saliva test kit measures cortisol levels throughout the day and assesses adrenal function. Prepaid shipping label included. Lab results are sent directly to you. Test kit includes 15 minute in person or telephone consultation with our registered nurse.

References:
Why We Gain Weight When We’re Stressed – And How Not To. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201308/why-we-gain-weight-when-we-re-stressed-and-how-not
Abdominal fat and what to do about it. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it
Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987
The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis.  http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/2011/02/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis/
Cortisol – Its Role In Stress, Inflammation and Indications for Diet Therapy. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml