Recently we’ve been talking about why we are nutrient-deficient due to our modern lifestyles. We’ve talked about how modern diets have changed and the five most common nutrient deficiencies as a result of many factors.
Two factors we haven’t considered yet is the impact of stress and insufficient sleep. Both of these things impact our ability to absorb nutrients while also dictating the rate at which our body uses - and therefore requires - nutrient stores.
So let’s have a look.
Stress is a general word thrown around to describe a feeling or hormonal interchange that poses some form of threat to a person's health and wellbeing.
Generally speaking, you won’t hear someone comment about his or her “wonderfully stressful” day. Rather, they will talk about how burdened or overwhelmed their day is, because of the stress they feel.
We speak of stress in the negative, yet we forget to realize that certain stress is healthy. The fight or flight response helps mobilise us when stress is imminent. When we have a saber-tooth tiger chasing us this is a good thing. Stress can also activate certain hormone responses and cortisol rises to remind us to eat - which is obviously critical for gaining nutrients in the first place.
Stress will allow you to develop through adaptation. Imagine you are training for a marathon. If you are not a runner and you start training with too high an intensity or mileage, then the stress will break you. You will get injured. Yet, if you slowly ease into training, increasing your distance and the speed of your runs, your body will adapt appropriately.
Traditional lifestyles were more relaxed than today, there’s no doubt they had there fair share of stress. But a good friend of mine who lived with different traditional tribes around the world for 2 years told me that in his experience they basically only work 4 hours a day, in the morning, and sit around under a shady tree all afternoon…sounds great to me!
The harder you push your body, the more stress you are under, the more vitamins and minerals your body uses. In time of stress your body uses more B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc just to name a few. I believe most of us in the western world are living beyond our nutritional limits, the evidence of stimulant use like caffeine and refined carbohydrates are good examples of the crutches people are using to deal with the day to day load of stressors. The harder you push your mind and body the more nutrients you need!
The final implication of stress is that it initiates coping responses in us. In ancestral times we would sleep more. Now, we reach for stimulants to prop up our cortisol or sugar levels - caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar or grains. Consuming these things occasionally is not a problem. But all these things place load on our liver and affect our ability to store and absorb nutrients from our food.
Toxic load and stress
Traditional peoples lived in a relatively pristine environment. Let’s face it, organic food didn’t exist, because that’s all there was!
We know that environmental toxins block enzyme function and increase the need for antioxidants, minerals and vitamins needed by the liver for detoxification of these toxins. The modern world is full of environmental toxin exposure, from PCB’s and Dioxins from plastics to heavy metals mobilised in the soil by acidic fertilisers – they are simply everywhere, you cannot escape them!
All you can do is support your body’s systems for dealing with them, which means you need more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
The research now says that bad sleep, or lack of it, can contribute to major illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. But it also affects our nutrient status.
On the flip side, good sleep improves our mood, mental ability, memory, immunity and physical performance.
To understand how sleep and nutrients work in tandem we need to be aware that sleep is both an active and a restorative process, where hormonal and neurochemical (mental) changes occur.
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.
For these reasons, coupled with modern farming methods, the freshness of our produce and enzymes in common foods affecting our nutrient absorption, sometimes we simply can’t get everything we need from food alone. We recommend BePure ONE and THREE as the baseline level of nutrition you need daily to account for all of these dietary and lifestyle factors.
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