HOW DOES STRESS AFFECTS THE BODY?
What is stress?
1. Stress is the initial response of the body to any situation that we perceive as a threat. It could be physical, emotional or psychological.
2. Stress is required in order to respond to a situation in which our system prepares the body for a strenuous physical activity and this is when we are in sympathetic mode or “fight or flight” mode. At this time, Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone is released.
On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system regulates the “rest and digest” functions. In other words, this system controls basic bodily functions that happen while one is sitting quietly reading a book (1).
Chronic stress or prolonged activation of the stress response can change the balance of the stress response system. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is released by adrenal glands, located on top of both kidneys, in response to any stress we face. The cortisol rises and declines as we pass the stage of stress but being in a longer and consistent stage of stress, may eventually contribute to an imbalance in the daily rhythms of cortisol production.
Adrenal glands get affected by prolonged stress which dysregulates the hormone production network which includes Hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands (HPAaxis). Genetic background, early-life environment, and current life stress are the main factors that determine the HPA axis activity that controls the amount of cortisol a person is exposed to during adulthood.
Affects of stress on the body-
v Immune health- Increase cortisol levels which may reduce natural killer cells that may affect the body’s ability to fight various bacteria and viruses.
v Disrupts circadian rhythm
v Gastrointestinal health- Symptoms may include heartburn, nausea, stomach pain, indigestion.
v Heart health- may increase blood pressure and further related complications.
v Being anxious, feeling unrefreshed after sleep, tired, frustrated are some of the features of HPA dysregulation.
The gut environment plays a role in regulation of the
immune and the nervous systems. There is growing evidence that nutritional components, such as probiotics, gluten, histamine intolerance and antibiotics, have a high impact on the activity of one of our nerve called Vagus nerve (that is responsible for the regulation of organ functions such as digestion, heart rate) through the interaction with the gut microbiota.
What can i do to relax?
- Deep Breathing
- Meditation Everyday
helps many people to relax as it is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system i.e rest and digest state, which plays a role in the HPA axis (2)
1. Physiology of the Autonomic nervous system.
2. Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders
Sigrid Breit1†, AleksandraKupferberg1, Gerhard Rogler2 and Gregor Hasler