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Home  Health Effects of Stress

6 Health Effects of Stress

Thursday, April 16, 2015
By Danielle C. Tworek, CPT, WLS, Nutritionist

How Stress Affects Your Health

Stress is an inevitable part of life. A little stress can be a very good thing – it really “keeps you on your toes.” However, too much stress or extreme stress can wreak havoc on your health, including increasing your risk for certain health conditions. Read on to discover why you need to learn to relax and what you can do to stave off stress-induced health dangers, when the stress factors grow beyond your control.

  1. Stress shrinks the brain. In a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers reported that factors that induce extreme stress, such as being laid off, getting divorced or the death of a close loved one, can reduce the actual size of the gray matter of the brain. Experts say that changes to gray matter may signal future psychiatric issues.

  2. relaxation mineralStress leads to premature aging. You may not be able to see it on the surface, but stress ages you, starting in childhood. One study showed that children exposed to violence or who were bullied had shorter telomeres than those who did not experience such trauma. Telomeres, found inside cells, are believed to be associated with longevity.

  3. Stress affects your offspring. You may be well beyond your fertile years and your kids may even already have kids, but you can tell your grandkids to heed this advice: stress can influence your genes. A study out of the University of Cambridge found that markers of stress were observed in the germ cells (before they become egg meets sperm) of mice.

  4. Stress may induce depression. This may seem like a no-brainer, but stress can make you sad, chronically sad (depressed) especially if you can’t seem to shake the shroud of daily pressures or tragic events.

  5. Stress increases disease risk. Researchers found that while stress can do some serious damage to your health, how you react to it, has an even bigger impact on your risk of disease. A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, uncovered evidence that people who were more stressed out and anxious over daily stressors we more likely to have chronic health conditions, such as arthritis and heart disease, than those who were more relaxed about everyday pressures.

  6. Stress makes colds worse. As if the flu isn’t already bad enough, pile on stress and you have one nasty cold. Stress can impair the body’s immune defenses leaving you with little help when battling cold and flu season.

Healthy Ways to Battle Stress

Since stress can be so detrimental to your health, you need smart, easy strategies to tame the tension. Experts recommend daily meditation to keep stress from consuming you. In fact, many purport meditation as the most effective way to battle stress and its effects. Meditation comes in many different forms, including yoga, breathing practices and focused quiet time. Whichever you choose, the most important step is to clear your mind. Shoving everything out of your head for just five minutes a day can change your outlook on life.

Routine physical activity is important too. A good sweat can release endorphins, boosting your mood, releasing tension and removing toxins from the body.

Certain herbs, spices and other nutrients have been shown to help battle various forms of stress or promote relaxation. For example, research has observed curcumin to be effective in dealing with depression and anxiety. Magnesium promotes relaxation of the blood vessels, keeping your blood pressure in check. Vitamin B-12 aids in focus and energy and chamomile can help calm an active mind.

If stress is haunting you, start taking five minutes out of every day to free your mind. Do it for your health.


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Dr. David Brownstein is a board-certified family physician, renowned holistic practitioner, and editor of Dr. David Brownstein's Natural Way to Health newsletter.


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Dr. Russell Blaylock is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer and editor of Dr. Blaylock’s The Blaylock Wellness Report.

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Erika Schwartz, M.D. is a leading national expert on wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies and editor of Dr. Erika's Healthy Balance.




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