If you don’t think stress affects your health, you haven’t read enough about it.
Many researchers believe that stress is the root cause of all disease. That’s because chronic stress can depress your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to fungal overgrowth and all manner of disease.
A less well-understood issue was discussed by psychologist Dr. Alexander Lloyd, who essentially described stress’ impact on the body as being a sort of log-jam at the cellular level. This means that under chronic stress, nutrients simply cannot enter your cells effectively, nor can cellular toxins exit.
Dr Bruce Lipton, working with Stanford University Medical School, estimates that 95% of all illness is due to stress. The Centers for Disease Control puts the number at 90%. Studies that tend to prove those estimates come from Harvard, Yale, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Boston University, Mayo Clinic, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and a slew of other respected academic and clinical sources.
DON’T SYMPATHIZE WITH STRESS
When it comes to stress, you should know that our central nervous system is organized into two main parts: The Sympathetic and the Para-sympathetic systems.
The sympathetic side plays an enormous role when we think about stress-related illness. It’s the side that is engaged when we’re under chronic or acute stress; the so-called “fight or flight” side. Think about the tornado sirens sounding (sorry; I’m from Oklahoma), or the two-in-the-morning phone call you dread. These are when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged.
The parasympathetic system is the side that is engaged in health, healing, and growth. Those engaged in therapeutic yoga or tai chi may have heard from your instructor that the goal is to engage the parasympathetic nervous system when practicing these arts. There’s even something called “parasympathetic breathing”, which is designed to calm the body and mind down to a place most involved in healing.
When we are chronically stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is sounding the siren in full effect. When that happens, a series of events occurs in the body.
According to Dr Lloyd, blood flow in the body changes and digestion slows down to a near halt. The creative parts of the brain dis-engage. Blood flow slows down to the kidneys. The liver’s detoxifying function slows. Your body turns to total survival mode.
Imagine that your family has to evacuate from your home immediately. You aren’t worried about the TV, the video games, the bed, your favorite pillow, the artwork you may have created, your school textbooks, or saving all the food in the fridge. All you’re doing is getting the only things you need to evacuate and survive, plus perhaps your photo albums. That’s it. You’re not concerned about comfort, leisure, creativity, growth, learning, or anything else that doesn’t immediately relate to basic survival.
That’s exactly what happens to the body under chronic stress. It’s concerned about very basic survival, and little else. It’s not on-boarding nutrients, or detoxifying, or resting. It’s merely existing.
The effects of being in this chronic emergency mode cannot be overstated. It’s nearly impossible to heal from or stave off disease. It’s extremely hard to lose weight. It’s difficult to relax and sleep. It ages you rapidly.
What’s worse, it’s very hard for your nutrition program to have it’s full impact under these circumstances. I’ve experienced this first-hand, and I’ve seen it happen in countless nutrition counseling clients. Specifically, I’ve seen folks eat well, supplement well, and exercise consistently, but experience almost no positive effects from the good habits.
It’s as if the body is immune to the good habits when it’s under constant stress.
I, myself, have had Doug pull me aside and have a heart to heart talk with me when I’ve been extremely stressed, and nothing I’m doing physically is helping. He had to have the “let go and let God” conversation where we approach the problem from a strictly spiritual-emotional level rather than a physical level, especially when I’m doing everything “right”, physically.
On the other hand….when the body is in parasympathetic mode, and you’re free of stress and worry, it’s like a universal shield against disease taking hold. Perhaps overstating it a bit, Dr Lloyd makes a bold statement about this: “A cell in growth and healing mode is impervious to disease.”
I’ve seen this. Over the years, I’ve talked about my dad, who was a World War 2 vet, and a faithful family man for all of his 89 years.
Dad had strength and energy his entire life. He needed to! He and mom brought me into this world when he was 50 years old! Yet, he worked all day, then came home at night and played catch with me, or took me to the local pool, and took me camping regularly, never missing a beat.
Dad was also never sick. I mean NEVER sick. I don’t remember him ever having a cold, and when he died peacefully, he was on zero medications. The doctors were shocked by this.
If you knew my dad, you knew that he was also never, ever stressed. He was calm and soft-spoken. He was never late, but never rushed. He was responsible, finished everything he started, but without the least bit of worry. Ever.
On the one hand, you’d never take my dad as an example of great health. He smoked a pipe every day after returning from the war. He never ate a vegetable that wasn’t fried. He had a sweet tooth, and ate some kind of sweet treat every day – sometimes in the place of an actual meal.
On the other hand, he was the picture of health. Perfect blood work, perfect weight, perfect cardiac and lung health, incredibly sharp mind, and all-day energy.
My wife calls it The Gene Drew Secret To Great Health: Don’t stress out.
Now…is this an invitation to eat junk?
Of course not. But it’s an extreme example of how anxiety-free living can be incredibly powerful.
The Fungus Link Volume 1
This is where it all began, and it’s your starting point to understanding the Fungus Link philosophy to health, and what to do to feel your best! This is the first installment of Doug Kaufmann’s Best selling series The Fungus Link.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
I promise that if you can manage your stress, you can make strides in your health.
So how do we deal with stress effectively?
In my opinion, it begins on the non-physical side. The reason I suggest this is because of what Dr Lloyd and other have found about how the body reacts to stress, and how it’s very difficult to digest food and utilize it’s nutrients when we’re chronically, extremely stressed.
So, this means that we have to get ahold of our emotions. This may come through counseling, or becoming more spiritually grounded, or simply being around people who have a better outlook on life than you do. You know these people. The ones who let things slide off of them like it’s nothing. You need to hang out with them. Frequently. There’s something about being with people like that that just rubs off on you, and if you’re anxious, you need that.
Exercise has a way of bypassing some of the barriers that nutrition has to overcome. In particular, find the kind of exercise that is stress-relieving rather than stress-inducing.
Frankly, the kind of exercise that is very popular in America may not be the kind that a stressed-out body should be subjected to. Some folks are relieved by super high-intensity exercise. If that’s you, great. But please know that low-intensity exercise is recommended for most people who have anxiety issues. Yoga, tai chi, chi gong, walking, stretching, and other more parasympathetic-friendly exercises may need to comprise the majority of your training regimen. Remember, if you’re stressed, your adrenals are taxed. High intensity exercise puts an even greater stress on your adrenals, and you may not have enough “reserve” to recover from the life stress AND the training stress. Be wise when selecting the training that’s right for you.
When it does come time to supplement, remember that you’ll likely need extra anti-fungal support, being that your immune function is likely at least a little depressed. This means probiotics, curcumin, caprylic acid, oregano oil, olive leaf extract, malic acid, MCT oil, fish oil, and a host of other natural supplements we talk about all the time on Know The Cause.
For stress-specific supplemental support, I’d investigate rhodiola, holy basil, L-theanine, passionflower, and a somewhat hard to find nutrient called phosphorylated serine, (not to be confused with it’s close relative, phophatidyl serine). We don’t want to be perceived as likening these to medicines or to give medical advice, so Google them, and visit with a licensed healthcare professional who is trained in natural health protocols for specific advice.
Stress is no joke, and it’s not something to pretend isn’t affecting you. Nip this problem as quickly and completely as possible so that you can enjoy everything the Kaufmann Lifestyle has to offer.