Connecting the Dots: Your Body’s Stress Response
Oct 27, 2011 05:39PM
● By Deepti Sadhwani, MD
Our bodies operate by utilizing multiple systems. If the heart beats less than perfectly, the lungs are affected. These two systems must work together, and in turn, they affect all other systems. Each separate system, whether endocrine, gastrointestinal, neurological, or psychological, has an influence on all the workings within the human body.
Every little molecule within the body consists of a packet of energy which must interact with other molecules, or other packets of energy, in an efficient manner. When that efficiency is interrupted, the connections go awry and all sorts of problems occur.
Some may understand how the mechanics of an automobile could compare to a human body. A car operates as a unified whole with different systems within it, connecting and working together. The driver of the car could be considered the brain. The driver tells the car what to do. However, the car will not operate correctly if one of the systems is deteriorating- no matter how experienced the driver is.
Human beings have such miraculous bodies they may be driven around as though on autopilot. This is different than driving a car around. A healthy body is wired from birth to learn as quickly as possible how to turn the autopilot on and to do it without thinking about it. When the body becomes injured or ill, rethinking must occur, in order to modify the patterns and restore optimum function.
Thoughts influence the welfare of the body. Shakespeare famously said, “thinking makes it so.” There is a Bible reference, “as a man thinketh, so is he.” Einstein said, “it is easier to change particles of matter than the thinking of man.” Human thoughts carry packets of energy.
Like gas is used to run an automobile, food fuels the human body. With overeating and stress, there is an inclination to run on autopilot – eating what feels or tastes good. This sets into motion a cyclic, downward spiral. Stressful thoughts (packets of energy) produce a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is useful if one is being pursued by a wild beast. It triggers a fight or flight mode.
Societal stress today still produces cortisol, although there is no obvious threat of a real, charging animal. Packets of energy from stressful thinking know only to generate cortisol. That kind of energy is on automatic. The adrenal glands which produce cortisol, cannot discern the cause of stress, only that stress is present.
Stress hormones, once in motion, create cravings for fat and sugar. Insulin levels are affected and elevated. In turn, sleep may be affected, which then affects the body’s ability to handle stress and depletes the energy needed to exercise, and so on. When the fuel for the body is less than premium during stressful times, stress can only be augmented and perpetuated. The cycle of stress must be broken.
Solutions for stress:
Meditate. Studies have shown monks benefited physically from meditation, even just chanting om. An individual may find a certain hobby puts them into a meditative state. Everyone can benefit from going to a quiet place in their head, but outside the box. There are multiple meditative tapes and CDs available that one may use to help separate from stressful thinking. Repetitive and habitual quiet times can help one to make better food choices.
Keep Moving. Low intensity exercising is beneficial. Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent examples of exercise which help reduce stress. Walking or keeping the body in easy motion periodically offsets cortisol, the stress hormone. Low intensity activity helps control the appetite mechanism.
Staying in Touch. Keeping social connections with family and friends is vital for calming stress. Dan Buettner, author of Thrive describes “Blue Zones” around the globe where people live long and are happy, and he discusses why. Remaining socially connected is one of the key points to longevity. Diet and exercise are others. His studies are on centenarians, people who thrive past 100 years.
Deepti Sadhwani, M.D. is located at Quality Health Care in Sebastian. She specializes in fighting obesity, aging and helping people reduce and eliminate the need for medication. For more information call Dr. Sadhwani at 772-581-2373.