By Thea J. Rabb, ND
The lazy days of summer are now behind us and the frenzy of fall is back in full swing. When the autumn season greets us, so to does increased responsibility. These added obligations intensify the amount of daily stress we must live with.
Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we need a certain amount of it to keep us alert and motivated, and add spice to our lives. But when stress is chronic and relentless, just the opposite can occur, leaving us feeling frazzled and frayed.
Constant exposure to daily stress can not only keep us in a fluctuating emotional state but significant health problems such as fatigue, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, decreased immunity, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few, have been linked to chronic elevated stress levels.
Complete avoidance of all stress is infeasible and impractical. However, supportive measures can and should be taken to prevent and mitigate the ravages of this physiologic reality.
For example, your adrenal glands, which make and secrete stress hormones, utilize up to 90% of the vitamin C we consume while also requiring a constant supply of B vitamins as well. Studies have shown that even after only one week of elevated stress your body can become depleted in important vitamins and minerals by up to 30-40%.
Eating at least three meals a day loaded with healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables is a great way to ensure you are supplying your body with the raw materials it needs to function optimally. However, perfect and proper nutrition isn’t as effortless in our modern society as we would like, so taking a quality daily multivitamin/mineral is a great way to protect against any gaps that might occur in our daily diet.
As mentioned, stress can also affect your cardiovascular system and lead to heart disease. This happens via constriction of your arteries, thereby elevating your blood pressure and increasing your risk for stroke and heart attacks.
There are many supplements a person can take to help protect their cardiovascular system against the side effects of elevated blood pressure. However, simply taking ten deep diaphragmatic breaths during an acute episode of stress has been shown to help calm, relax, and reduce blood pressure. Deep diaphragmatic breathing not only improves the tone of your arteries but it also helps put a person into the parasympathetic (our rest and digest) state of the nervous system. When done before meals, enhanced breakdown, absorption, and assimilation of the vital nutrients results, improving overall health.
Herbal and nutrient supplementation is a great way to help manage your health but the most powerful and lasting effects come from lifestyle changes. Taking assessment of your life and pinpointing where stress is originating can make it easier to eliminate and/or minimize any source of it that is not absolutely necessary.
This simple measure could be the greatest action you take to protect and guarantee the quality of your health and life.
Dr. Thea J. Rabb, N.D.
Optimal Health Center