STRESS, What it Does & EVOO - Blog # 16
Hi Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I’m taking a close look at STRESS, what it does to our bodies, what we can do to manage it, and how EVOO may be able to help.
What is STRESS? We all experience different levels on a daily basis. While small doses of stress is actually healthy, too much or chronic stress can be very detrimental. These days, with the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing more stress than normal. It is of utmost importance to find outlets and good ways to deal with stress. Stress is defined as a state of real or perceived threat to homeostasis. Our body responds to visual and sensory information by activating the body’s stress system: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and corticotropin are released stimulating an immune/inflammatory (I/I) reaction involving both the innate and adaptive immune systems (see blog # 7). This results in the “accumulation of fluid and leukocytes in extra vascular tissues.” Glucocorticoids (such as cortisol) are the end-product of the HPA axis and stimulate appetite as well as the hypothalamic NPY gene expression, which exerts detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system and on metabolism. Some of the effects of glucocorticoids:
- Increased hepatic gluconeogenesis (liver makes glucose) leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and contributes to hyperglycemia in diabetics.
- Increased plasma glucose levels (leads to /exacerbates diabetes)
- Obesity, favoring accumulation of abdominal and dorsocervical (back of neck) fat, increasing risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.
- Causes protein degradation in skeletal muscle, bone and skin to scavenge amino acids to be utilized in oxidative pathways.
- Products such as eicosanoids and inflammatory cytokines influence brain function.
- Excessive HPA axis response as during stress increases susceptibility to infectious agents as well as developing tumors.
- Worsens or leads to asthma, atopic dermatitis, permanent hair loss, acute coronary syndromes, coronary inflammation, coronary artery disease, periodontal disease, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems, mental health issues including depression.
- Pain. Clinical pain is associated with alterations in the concentration of corticosteroid-releasing hormone (CRH) in cerebrospinal fluid and to salivary cortisol levels as well. Chronically altered levels in both CRH and salivary cortisol have been linked to early-life trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse.
- Sleep disturbance. The stress system is also involved in generating the body’s circadian rhythms known as the CLOCK system and regulates many physiologic functions.
- Hormone disturbance. The stress system is closely interconnected with all the major endocrine axes such as growth, reproduction and thyroid (low TSH). Substance P is elevated with chronic stress. In animals, this produces anxiety-like behavior. In women, chronic suppressing effects of the HPA axis results in anxiety, depression, eating disorders and amenorrhea. In men, decreased libido and hypo-fertility as well as stress-induced low testosterone can occur. In children, psychosocial dwarfism can result from inhibition of growth hormone and a spectrum of behavioral abnormalities. Chronic activation of the HPA axis can result in increased visceral fat, suppressed bone growth, decreased muscle and bone mass, and insulin resistance. Holy moly!!!
So, what can EVOO do to help your body combat the effects of stress? A study in 2014 compared different fatty acids on cells with induced oxidative stress. “Among eight fatty acids tested (both saturated and unsaturated), Oleic Acid (OA) exerted the most pronounced cytoprotective effects, with efficacy over a wide range of concentrations.” This is exciting! Next, Oleocanthal (powerful antioxidant in EVOO) has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities to combat stress-induced oxidation. It also counteracts abnormal protein aggregation and deposition, thus preventing two distinctive hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease: neurofibrillary tangle and amyloid B deposition. Oleocanthal inhibits inflammatory enzymes and is active in their degradation. Researchers pre-treated cells with oleocanthal 24 hours prior to exposure to hydrogen peroxide. Oleocanthal protected the cells against the destructive exposure to hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, it also protected the cells against methylglyoxal (responsible for protein glycation end products). Methylglyoxal induces cross-linking of proteins leading to neurodegeneration. Wow! This means EVOO is protecting my cells even 24 hours later? Amazing!!
Okay, so chronic stress is very bad for us and can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other diseases. Sleep appears to be one key factor related to many disorders and needs to be addressed by all of us. Are you guys beginning to see how everything is connected and affects everything else? It seems the digestive system, liver and brain are almost always involved. EVOO has a healing effect on all these organ systems in the body. Does it not make sense to actively do something to counteract the bad things our body has to deal with all the time? Have any of you been under so much stress that you got sick? Cortisol depresses your immune system. Right now we need our immune system to be on point! Here are a few suggestions that you can implement to keep yourself in tip top shape.
1. Deep Breathing. When you feel stress coming on (like during driving) take a deep cleansing breath through the nose, slowly exhale through the mouth and allow your mind to calm and reset.
2. Mind over Matter. Recall something funny or happy. Recall the funniest joke you ever heard, or the funniest video you’ve ever seen. This helps shut down the cascade of havoc cortisol is trying to create and stimulates release of dopamine.
3. Exercise. Take a walk, jog, yoga or meditate. It is one of the best ways your body can combat stress. Aerobic exercise has been found to be best for people with FM.
4. Take a shot of EVOO with your favorite juice. It has powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects and can prevent damage to tissues from coritsol.
5. Sleep In the dark!. Take a hot bath or have a soothing herbal tea about an hour before you want to be asleep. Avoid alcohol and sleep aids. Turn all lights off. Exposure to light inhibits melatonin secretion from the pineal gland, preventing stage 4 deep sleep. A healthy pineal gland has long been associated with longevity. This can affect hormone and cortisol levels as well as brain health. **Melatonin is made from Serotonin**
6. Do a good deed. Doing something unexpected for someone else can really give you a mental and emotional boost. Take someone in need a bag of groceries, volunteer at a homeless shelter, take an elderly person a roll of toilet paper. LOL!
7. Laugh. Call a friend or watch something funny on TV. Play with your kids or dog.
8. Mindfulness-based stress reduction. Take a break from news. Allow yourself down time to read a book instead. Listen to relaxing music.
9. Drink extra water! Your body wants to eliminate all the bad stuff. Flush it out.
10. Cook something different you’ve been wanting to try. It stimulates your brain in a different way and helps block release of cortisol.
11. Massage. Getting a massage can reduce cortisol by 30%.
12. Set goals to be your best self. Find peace. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. You can’t change the past, only what you do right now.
Okay. Let’s recap. In order to combat stress, control pain and prevent a host of diseases and disorders, we need refreshing sleep. It needs to be dark so our pineal gland can produce melatonin. Since melatonin is made from serotonin, and serotonin is primarily produced in our gut, we must fix our gut to be able to get into stage 4 sleep!! Giving our bodies high polyphenol EVOO helps to fix our gut, combat the havoc stress is causing, helps protect our brain, protect us from oxidation-induced cancer, reduces inflammation, modulates pain, enhances our metabolism and protects our cardiovascular system as well. Next week, I’ll look at Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (greatly impacted by stress).
Until next week my friends, stay focused! Reduce stress! drink, drizzle, digest high polyphenol EVOO, eat some fatty fish, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep in the dark, take care of your digestive tract with a good pre/probiotic, exercise your body and mind! #EVOO