In June of 2008, more people reported physical and emotional symptoms caused by stress than they did in 2007. Here’s a look at the toll stress is taking:
•43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
•75 to 90% of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
• 48% of Americans reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods to manage stress, while one in four skipped a meal in the past month because of stress.
• Stress is linked to six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
•Stress suppresses the immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to infections, makes it harder to recover from illnesses, and often aggravates allergies and skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.
•Excessive stress can worsen high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
•Chronic stress may lead to insulin-dependent diabetes in people who are predisposed to the disease.
•Stress can aggravate existing painful conditions such as herniated discs, fibromyalgia and migraines.
•Stress symptoms include irritability, problems sleeping, changes in appetite, headaches, stomachaches, intestinal problems, nervousness, excessive worry and feeling sad and depressed
How Stress Ravages Your Body
The strain of watching your investments take a daily dive or worrying about a loved one can ratchet up stress levels and leave you irritable and on-edge. This stress also affects you physically.
Under stress, your body zips into “fight or flight” mode to defend itself. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase and oxygen-rich blood is redistributed from the internal organs to the muscles to fuel them for action. Blood fats and sugars also increase to fuel muscles.
Since these functions are a priority for short-term “survival,” other functions, such as tissue repair, digestion and the immune system, take a break. That’s fine for a bit, but if you’re under long-term stress, your body remains in heightened-alert mode and starts to wear down.
Extended stress can impair the immune system to “age” the body, which can lead to functional decline, heart disease, osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Stress also is linked to memory loss, obesity, depression and suicide. Under stress, the amount of free radicals damaging your body increases, while depleting many essential vitamins and minerals — especially the B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
According to the American Psychological Association, the health consequences of extreme stress are worst when people ignore symptoms and fail to manage stress well.
Good nutrition is one defense against the health ravages of stress. Here are some key stress-fighting nutrients.
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3)
Research studies demonstrate that essential fatty acids can increase resistance to stress and its side effects as they boost immune function to help fight infection, illness and disease. Memory, performance and behavior are all affected by omega-3 intake.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids and flavanoids, help boost immune function and fight free radical damage caused by stress. Antioxidants also may improve cognitive function as well as lower the stress hormone, cortisol.
This mineral helps muscles relax, helps you fall asleep and stimulates production of calming neurotransmitters and dopamine, another neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
B vitamins, such as B6, B12 and others, help form calming neurotransmitters in the brain. They’re essential to energy production and support the immune system, while helping to maintain regular blood sugar levels.
Stress slows digestion, decreasing the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients, and raising blood sugar. Fiber can aid digestion, level out blood sugar and increase regularity.
Relìv Offers a Nutritional Solution to Stress
While it may not be possible to control the current economic causes of stress, it is possible to fortify your body to deal with the physical ravages induced by stress.
Now more than ever, it’s essential to adopt a healthy diet low in fat and rich in lean protein, whole grains and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week as well. And give your body the extra support it needs with high-quality nutritional supplementation .
Reliv Now® and Reliv Classic® provide a full range of stress-fighting vitamins, minerals and herbs, plus other vital nutrients. Reliv’s FibRestore® includes 10 grams of fiber along with 21 herbs shown to help the body better cope with stress, and it’s rich in antioxidants like mixed carotenoids and Vitamin C. And ReversAge®, GlucAffect™ and Reliv Now® for Kids also contain omega-3 fatty acids along with other health-promoting ingredients.
Take control of the stress in your life, rather than letting it take control of you, and you’ll keep yourself feeling more energetic and balanced, regardless of what the world throws at you each day.
To Your Health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings, Reliv Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer