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How Stress Impacts Our Health And What We Can Do

By BePure

We all get stressed from time to time. It’s part of life, right? In fact, most people experience stress so regularly that they believe feeling anxious, irritable, reliant on caffeine and experiencing cravings is a normal state of being – something unavoidable, rather than something we can navigate.

It’s important to note that not all stress is bad. We need a certain level of stress to get us going each day – and stress can be our bodies way of altering us that something needs attending to. However, in our modern world it is undeniable that prolonged stress has become increasingly common, leaving us with depleted energy levels and ultimately preventing us from living the lives we desire. 

Today, we experience the same hormonal and physiological changes that accompany stress that our traditional ancestors did – only a lot more regularly, and for longer periods of time. Which isn’t great news – especially considering our ancestors were under threat from predators or food famine several times a year. Today many of us feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, overstretched or run down weekly, if not daily. And instead of being from famine, it’s from trying our manage our busy, modern-day lives. 

“Today many of us feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, overstretched or run down weekly, if not daily.”

So what happens when we are stressed?

First of all, our body does not differentiate between real and perceived stress. This means no matter what kind of stress we experience, our body responds in the same way.

“No matter what kind of stress we experience, our body responds in the same way.”

Here’s some examples of stressors we are exposed to in the modern world: 

Environmental stress
  • Toxins in our environment
  • Eating foods that do not serve us, such as stimulants like alcohol and coffee
Physical stress
  • Intensive exercise – functional exercise that puts strain on the body
  • Screen time – blue light and various other lights that are unnatural in prolonged periods of time
Emotional stress
  • Expectations – Part of the problem here is the expectations we set for ourselves. All to often the perception is that to be successful or important, our lives must be stressful.
  • Financial stress
  • Work-related stress
  • Relationships
  • The list goes on…

When your body perceives a stress, your nervous system responds by increasing heart rate, blood sugar levels, muscle strength, and stamina. This is known as the 'fight or flight’ response – and it's completely natural and necessary.

However, because we are experiencing higher and more prolonged stress levels than ever before, it's becoming increasingly prevalent that our body’s natural, evolutionary response to stress might actually be at the root of many health issues including fatigue, weight gain and hormone imbalances.

So what’s the link between stress and nutrients?

Stress, whether it’s outwardly obvious or not, has a significant physiological response within the body.

When your body engages in ‘flight or fight’ response, it demands more energy production in an attempt to cope, which in turn requires more nutrients. And not only do you need more nutrients to fuel your increased energy demand, you also need extra nutrients to support the eventual detoxification of the extra hormones.

As your ‘flight or fight’ response kicks in, you get a rush of hormones released from your adrenal gland. These are known as our daytime hormones and are essential for keeping us awake and active. In some ways, we are built for these hormones! However, with increased daily stress, we are essentially burning out our resources to cope with all these hormones.

“With increased daily stress, we are essentially burning out our resources to cope with all these hormones.”

In the modern world, many people are exhausted. This is because firstly; we experience real or perceived stress more often than our ancestors and secondly; are lacking in nutrients to deal with it. When we don’t give our bodies the support they need, our bodies don’t cope well and take longer to recover.

Stress has an impact on all our systems in the body and it affects many people in different ways. Across the board, we see that stress significantly impacts energy.

“Across the board, we see that stress significantly impacts energy.”

Usually, you’ll notice exhaustion set in after the stressor has passed and you no longer need to be in ‘flight or fight’ mode. But unfortunately this means the damage is already done.

So what can you do?

1. Avoid the stressors you can control

While it may seem that your stress levels are out of your control, there are ways to make positive change for the better. As mentioned earlier, our bodies process all stress, whether it is real or perceived, in the same way. If you notice that you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it makes sense to avoid other forms where you can.

  • Environmental Stress - Unfortunately, the modern world exposes our bodies to high levels of environmental toxins. As a result, we tend to turn to stimulants to get through the day, including alcohol, coffee, refined grains and sugars. However, these place stress on our gut and liver, so it’s best to avoid these where you can.

  • Physical Stress - Exercise at the right intensity level for your lifestyle is a great example of exposing your body to the positive levels of stress. Even by taking a daily walk you can make a healthy change!

    However, when we are overloaded with stress in our lives, strenuous exercise actually becomes too much for the body. Many people will get more benefit from a walk or yoga instead of high-intensity exercise.

2. Quality sleep

Sleep can help or mitigate our stress response by working with or against your natural circadian rhythm.

Our circadian rhythm (aka our internal body clock) is naturally regulated by light and dark; and by changes in body functions, including our body temperature, hormones, airways and kidneys every 24 hours.

This means levels of hormones such as your thyroid hormone, and our sleep melatonin are different during the day and night. Interrupted sleep can throw our hormone balance off and as a result your body requires more nutrients to maintain homeostasis.

Modern lifestyles are at play here, too. We are constantly exposed to the bright light from electronic devices like TVs, computers and smartphones at all hours of the day and night. This disrupts the earth’s day-night cycle that naturally regulates our sleep – this stress on our body again requires our bodies to use more nutrients.


3. Practise mindfulness

Thoughts and feelings around grief, work, family and finances all contribute to stress in our lives. This is an example of what we would call ‘perceived’ stress. It stimulates the same response as ‘real’ stress, so the body prepares for danger which doesn’t technically exist.

Most of our emotional stress is unavoidable but what we can control is how our body reacts to and handles the stress. Creating space for a daily mindfulness practice that suits you, can help in keeping you calm and cool under pressure – and give you space to process life’s difficult moments.

4. Nourish your body with nutrients

B Vitamins are crucial for helping your body cope with the physiological and hormonal changes that accompany stress. The best dietary sources of B Vitamins are dark, leafy green vegetables. Other key nutrients to support stress are magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron and potassium. Foods like cacao, brazil nuts, cinnamon, coconut water and antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries are all wonderful additions to your diet. In times of chronic stress, we recommend taking vitamin C to help support recovery. Citrus fruits are also great food sources of vitamin C.

However, as we know, we have a lack of minerals in NZ soils. This means that our bodies won’t naturally receive the support they need to actively manage the high levels of stress we experience in our modern day lives. 

We recommend adding in a high-quality, high-strength multivitamin supplement. BePure One, is an incredibly powerful multivitamin with a base of greens, to give our body all of the missing nutrients it needs in one go. With over 50 bioavailable ingredients, including all the nutrients mentioned above, BePure One is a simple solution. 

You can’t eliminate stress from your life completely. But you can take action against the damaging effects of prolonged stress by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle! Taking the time to understand and acknowledge the way stress impacts your body is the first step – and from there, you can support your body with essential nutrients that it needs to actively manage stress levels. You can’t control the waves, but you can learn how to surf.

We can't control the waves, but we can learn how to surf

Ultimately, our lives will never be free of stress and that's okay. The next best thing is to learn how to manage the stressors we face, and nourish our bodies so that they are in the best state to deal whatever comes our way.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a BePure Holistic Health Consultant or relevant health professional.

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