This article is part of a series on improving your immune system. Find more on the immune system series COMING SOON.
Stress is scary and prickly and sweeping the nation. It cannot be ignored in a discussion about the immune system, because stress is also creating chronic disease. In fact, 95% of all illness is caused or worsened by stress.
There is an epidemic of stress-related disorders and diseases in our society, including depression, anxiety, dementia, heart disease, cancer, and alzheimers.
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but I want to explain something very important. It could save your life! An increase in stress causes an increase in cortisol. This is good if it happens very occasionally. Trouble is, times have changed so that our cortisol levels are always raised.
What is cortisol?
You might know of cortisol as the flight or fight hormone. We are equipped with this hormone to be released very rarely and for a short period of time.
Why are my cortisol levels raised?
Times have changed and become more demanding so that most people have cortisol racing through them all of the time, rather than on an episodic basis. People are racing around from place to place, trying to make deadlines, while multi-tasking, and burning the candle at both ends. To top it off, we get going in the morning with an upper and wind down at night with a downer.
We use substances to manage our moods. In fact, the four top-selling items in grocery stores are all drugs that we use to manage our mood and energy: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and nicotine.
Why is it dangerous?
In self-medicating our stress, we are depleting the adrenal glands, the very glands designed to naturally manage our stress. Additionally, stress triggering the flight or fight response is leading to raised blood sugar, which is leading to inflammation and other diseases by increasing the level of C-reactive protein in the body.
**Don’t space out on my here, I know I am getting technical, but get this —
C-reactive protein is a marker for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and alzheimers. And stress is increasing our levels of C-reactive protein.
What can I do to support my body when stressed?
Support Your Adrenals and lower your cortisol:
- Relax – Learn how to actively relax. You must engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body by doing something. Sitting in front of the TV is not therapeutic. Active relaxation can include myofascial release treatments, Yamuna Body Rolling, yoga, meditation, or a walk in the woods.
- Deep belly breathing
- Exercise – It’s been proven to be the most effective treatment for depression.
- Supplements – You might want to consider a multivitamin, with high levels of B-complex and magnesium. Or use adaptogenic herbs, because they help you adapt and balance your body’s response to stress, such as Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, Schizandra (available at health food stores).
- Orgasm – Yes, an orgasm is a tremendous way to flush cortisol from your system.