© 2016 Dr. Sharon Norling
Getting stressed isn’t just a state of mind. It can also seriously harm the body.
You probably think you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy: you get lots of sleep, exercise regularly and try to avoid fried foods. But you may be forgetting one important thing. Relax! Stress has a bigger impact on your health than you might realize.
Stress makes our immune systems less effective because it actually elicits an immune response itself. Stress causes the body to release pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune factors that initiate responses against infections. When the body produces these cytokines over long periods of time—for instance, as a result of chronic stress—all sorts of bad things can happen. Not only does it hamper our body’s ability to fight infection and heal wounds, but chronic inflammation also increases our risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases including type 2 diabetes.
What’s more, because regular stress causes a chronic immune response, it can also increase a person’s risk for allergies, which occur when the body elicits a chronic immune response against something that’s not really dangerous (like pollen).
Important: The adrenal glands are directly affected by stress. The adrenal glands responded to stress in three distinct stages. In the initial stage, the adrenal glands enlarge and the blood supply to them increases. As the stress continues, the glands begin to shrink. Eventually, if the stress continues, the glands reach the third stage, which is adrenal exhaustion. During the exhaustion stage the adrenal glands begin to fail to meet the demands placed upon them. During this stage, the individual begins to have a variety of symptoms including fatigue, digestive problems, obesity, depression, dizziness, fainting, allergies and many other problems.
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