Did you know the term was originally coined in 1939 by a Canadian Endocrinologist.
Last night at Goodness Me! we talked about the effects of stress, and what stress actually looks like in the body; as well as Natural Ways to reduce Stress.
I really like the definition because I think it highlights exactly what we experience quite well!
Let's Break it Down!
"Non specific response of the body" - this describes that whether we have a physical stressor like an emergency situation like a fire for example, or a mental stressor like a work deadline - the body responds the same, non specific way. It increases our blood pressure, dilates our pupils, diverts blood and energy away from our digestive system and towards our muscles. While this may be great for the first scenario, this kind of reaction doesn't typically help us in our day to day stresses - yet it still occurs.
"Demand for Change" - In the first scenario, the demand is that you escape the situation [fight or flight, if you will] which thereby changes the situation. In the second scenario, the demand is that you change the current situation of not having the work task completed, to a future situation of being done and heading home for the day.
Interestingly, when there are multiple "demands for change", in other words, multiple life stresses, both our psychological interpretation, and our biochemical response becomes more primed to react. In plain English - Stress leads to more Stress!
So how can we stop the stress cycle and reduce stress's effects on our bodies?
1. Heal the Gut: We’ve all had that gut feeling, or butterflies in our stomach from time to time and this is because the brain and the body talk.
Our gut has been referred to as our second brain, and one of the big reasons for this is that
Heal the gut through:
Eating whole, real food – as much as you can, as often as you can. It’s a reality for many people that this is not always possible, but it’s about making the choice when it is possible and learning about the foods and ways to incorporate more easily into busy lifestyles. It’s a simple suggestion, but can have really powerful impacts on your health.
Reducing the sugar is an important one, and fortunately, one that happens naturally by cutting out some of the processed and packaged foods. Always try and watch out for how much sugar is added into your food choices!
Good fiber is important for many aspects of our health, but it can be particularly helpful for improving digestion, and reducing risk of certain cancers and gastrointestinal conditions. Consume both insoluble and soluble fibers [bran, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fruits, lentils]
2. Replace the nutrients that become depleted with stress!
Magnesium: Magnesium is one of the most important minerals we have. It is important for relaxing our muscles, and has many functions in our central nervous system and cardiovascular system. It is also depleted with chronic stress!
B Vitamins: the B vitamins in general are important for many cellular processes throughout the body. They can also be helpful for preventing burn out, improving mood, and replacing the extra amount that is required with chronic stress.
Vitamin C: is a great antioxidant, and shown to reduce the negative effects of acute stress.
3. Consider adaptogen or nervine teas to help the body cope with stress!
Nervines help to calm the nervous system, and typically contain vitamins and minerals which are nutritive for the body and mind. These include herbs such as :
As always, a Naturopathic Doctor can help assess your stress levels and figure out what herbs and supplements will be support you, in your unique circumstances!
Yours in Health,
Last night, we had a great talk at Goodness Me! here in Barrie, ON on ways to increase your energy levels, naturally.
A big thank you to all those who came out!
For those who couldn't make it this time, here are some of the highlights, and things to think about when trying to improve your own energy levels.
1. Fatigue is a symptom - not a diagnosis. Why one person is tired can vary from the next. By examining your energy input vs output you can find some clues!
This means that the body is trying to tell you something, and that message may vary greatly from one person to the next! It's important to take a close look at your lifestyle, diet, stressors, energy drainers, and activities and think about how much fuel you're providing your body compared to how much you're demanding.
An easy place to start: Try an activity log, and/or diet diary. We often give our memory a bit more credit than it deserves in this department. See how you're actually spending your time and energy, and what you're doing to replace the fuel. Please do this without judgement or self-criticism, but rather an open curiosity and willingness to learn and grow!
2. Keep those blood sugars balanced! Don't let your blood sugars drop by making sure you're fueling your body with proteins and fibres when you're consuming any carbohydrates [even fruits!].
This way, the blood sugars can remain steady, avoiding those spikes and drops which worsen fatigue, increase irritability, contribute to brain fog and worsening of vision and so on.
3. "Timing is everything": We often take our digestive process for granted, but when you really think about it, it's a big job! From releasing the digestive juice like our stomach acid, bile, and enzymes, to processing and absorption, to the muscular movements required to move the food through literally meters of intestine - that requires some work. When you're already tired and drained, adding this burden to the body cause lead to poor metabolism and use of the fuels, digestive issues like bloating, cramping, gas, and ultimately a worsening of energy.
If you're low on energy, don't overburden your system with large, difficult to digest meals - feed it small, regular, easy to breakdown foods. Think soups, stews, warm salads, plant proteins [legumes, lentils], and so forth.
4. Food Sensitivities: Food sensitivities can cause an incredibly wide range of symptoms, so you may not even know you have them! We commonly think of digestive symptoms like bloating or indigestion as being the main way to tell if you have food sensitivities, but they can actually cause all sorts of issues including fatigue, mood change, brain fog, weight gain, joint pain and so on!
Inflammation, failure to absorb and utilize nutrients, aggravations to the nervous system balance are a few reasons why food sensitivities can cause these symptoms and why they’re important to remove if you have them!
If you’re unsure, try a mini elimination diet. This involves taking out foods that commonly cause sensitivities for a period of 2-3 weeks, then re-introduce them one at a time to see how your body reacts. You can see a Naturopathic doctor to guide you on this process, or to do food sensitivity testing.
5. Supplements: While diet is king, supplements can be incredibly helpful tools when used properly. Pretty well every health food store has some sort of “energy aisle” and this is because it is such a common issue in our society! However, as you’ve seen so far, energy balance is fairly complex, and so supplements work better to help with an energy plan, rather than solve it entirely.
This means that supplements should be used to complement lifestyle and diet changes. They can be used to accelerate your healing process, to replace nutrients that may otherwise take a while to build back up, and to support the body's natural energy producing machinery. They can be used for both the short term and the long term, but typically it is best to consult with an ND if you are taking anything for a substantial amount of time.
Here are a few commonly used energy supplements:
1. B Complex: The B vitamins are so often pushed as energy vitamins because they have many important roles in our cellular processes. They help make neurotransmitters, they are needed for ATP production, and they help us use fatty acids as fuel. People do tend to find they have a bit of a boost from using these vitamins and because they are water soluble they are relatively safe.
2. Vitamin C is often marketed for energy and immunity, and both have some validity to them. In terms of energy, Vitamin C is depleted with stress , and it can be used to improve function of the adrenal glands which are often overworked with fatigue. Requirements for vitamin c also go up when there is an infection, so it can help improve the function of white blood cells, which in turns helps to keep the immune system active, keeping you healthy and energized.
3. Green Powders: These often contain a mixture of vitamins and minerals from whole food sources, usually with some sort of natural caffeine additive. Although nothing beats the real thing, as long as these powders do not have hidden sugars, colourings, or other additives, I’m generally for anything that gets more nutrients into someone!
4, Rhodiola: Rhodiola is a hearty herb, with a long history of use in Russia. It is known for it’s abilities to increase both physical and mental strength. It has been studied in athletes for improving performance and reducing recovery time, and it has been studied in medical students showing an improvement in memory, recall, and test performance. It can also be particularly helpful for low mood and anxiety, because of it’s action of modulating neurotransmitters like serotonin.
5. Korean Ginseng: Ginseng has been used for 1000’s of years within the Asian culture. Because of it’s stimulating nature, it can be helpful for short term stress, relief from fatigue, and increased concentration. It has often been overused in Asian cultures for it’s properties, but it’s effects do not maintain with long term use – so it’s best used short term to uplift, while getting other diet and lifestyle factors into place.
As always, please do not substitute this information for seeing a MD or an ND.
If you have complex health problems, have chronic fatigue with other symptoms [weight, mood, skin, digestive, muscular changes] or if you're taking medications it is best to get a proper work up because there can be many clinical causes of fatigue!
Thanks for reading!
Yours in health,
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