For decades, medicine has been trying to figure out what the different factors are between various diseases. Now a new line of thinking is turning that on its ear. It may turn out to be much more critical to understand the commonalities between the significant diseases that our population expresses.
One interesting statistic to be aware of is that well over 75-90% of all disease is related to or caused by negative stress. For all practical purposes, that means the nature of the stressors we experience and how we react to them to a substantial degree will determine our level of health and possibly our longevity.
Stress is an unavoidable consequence of life. It’s an epidemic and seen by some as our leading health problem. In 2018 the American Psychological Association conducted its annual Stress in America survey focusing on stress in American, particularly in those classified as Generation Z (born in the late nineties to about 2010). This generation shows increased stress over other adults.
However, as strange as it sounds, life without stress would be boring and incredibly dull. And guess what? Stress is not always harmful! Good stress can promote wellness, and bad stress triggers unhealthy biological responses. Life with too much stress becomes a health challenge and may ultimately damage your health and well-being.
Stress is Part of Life
Stress enters our world from day one. An infant may experience anxiety when their needs are not being met by their caregiver (food, love, hygiene, comfort, nurture, etc.). Stressors then continue throughout our entire life. In our modern-day world, stress tends to be persistent, pervasive, and non-forgiving. Our lives are filled with the emotions of stress: worry, fear, anxiety, loneliness, pressure, anger, regret, pressure, sadness – the list goes on. The demands from work, relationships, and challenges with money and personal losses have become the norm in contemporary society. Television and the internet only add to our levels of stress.
Disturbing images of war, terrorism, murders, disasters play nightly on our news feed. The body can only handle so much and as stress builds it is often manifested in the body.
These manifestations can create problems in virtually every system of the body (e.g., the heart and cardiovascular system, the immune system, the lungs, digestive system, sensory organs, the skeletal system, and the brain and nervous system) may become challenging. What is even more fascinating is the relationship about how many of these systems are linked together. Click here to explore how your stress system, gut, and brain are connected.
These stress related connections are one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working from the Functional Medicine model. This model demands that we recognize that everything is interconnected in the body. Instead of looking for single causes for health complaints, we search for patterns and correlations that are creating an environment that pushes the body into a state of compensation that isn’t good for the long-term well-being of the body.
3 Dimensions of Stress
Physical Stressors may include poor posture, lack of physical exercise, slips and falls, childbirth, car accidents, computer use, and other occupational factors.
Chemical Stressors may include an unbalanced diet, dehydration, toxic additives in our air, food and water supply, and prescription drugs.
Mental Stressors may include worry, anxiety, fear, family relations or finances, negative self-image/self-talk, and a victim mentality.
A subluxation in the spine is one of the main physical manifestations of stress in the body. When this happens, the effects of stress become ingrained in our nervous system, and the damaging effects accumulate over time. The result of stress-induced subluxations can have far-reaching effects on health.
We may not be aware of the accumulated stress that we are experiencing. With the pressures placed upon our nervous system in today’s society, it’s no wonder that our health is worse than ever. The unhealthy impact of stress on our nervous system is easily detected and corrected with wellness chiropractic.
Chemical stress occurs as a result of exposure to toxins in your environment or lifestyle. These toxins are present in your home, in the air you breathe, the beauty care products you use and in the food you eat.
Here are some things that can cause chemical stress in the body: caffeine, air pollution, household cleaning products, fast food, pesticides, pharmaceuticals (medications), plastics (bottles, wraps, containers, etc.), and drinking water.
Toxin poisoning can also be related to chronic headaches, irritability, inability to concentrate, memory problems, digestive disorders, nausea, skin problems (rashes), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, night sweats, and hormonal imbalances.
Children exposed to chemical poisoning in the womb may be at higher risk for aggression and learning and behavior disorders. Heredity can play a part in chemical toxicity because of a genetic inability to detoxify harmful toxins. Age, geographical area, occupation, gender, and household product use may also influence your susceptibility to illnesses caused by exposure to toxins.
So what can you do?
Try to limit your exposure to toxins in your environment as much as possible. Eat plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, get proper rest and exercise, limit your exposure to plastics. These practices will help keep your immune system in optimal working condition.
When we talk of chemical stressors, we can also include medical science and “big pharma.” These entities are searching for a single cause of each disease, instead of finding solutions to build health, we have an ever-increasing cocktail of drugs for each of these diseases and more people who are sick and suffering.
Nowhere has that approach been more tragic than in the area of mental health. The ever-expanding list of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, and opiate pain killers is literally and figuratively mind-numbing.
Let’s Reconnect the Brain and the Body
The first step seems simple. We need to think through the lens that whatever is happening in the brain is happening elsewhere in the body. Brain changes are a reflection of physical, chemical, and emotional stress and their impact on the nervous system, hormone system, digestive system, detoxification system, and structural system.
Brain changes are a universal problem and one that we must address because the stressors, whether they be physical, emotional, or chemical, are not going away; in fact, they may increase. To learn more about a holistic approach to healing the brain and mental illness, click here.
In the final analysis, there is only one cause of disease – your body’s inability to successfully adapt to negative stress.
We’ve created a simple stress assessment questionnaire for you to take to see if stress could be creating a negative impact on your health.