Stress is a Major Ager!

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Stress is a ‘Major Ager’ | Menopause Woman

Stress is a Major Ager!

Ageing is multifactorial*, and stress is included in this.

Stress is a ‘Major Ager’ – it speeds up the ageing process – big time!  Mind, body and spirit! It’s not important whether it’s emotional, mental, physiological, environmental, nutritional, or biological, they all lead to the same result – continual stress equals faster ageing, faster body breakdown, therefore, more health issues.

Today, stress is everywhere, killing us slowly but surely. It begins in the morning with perhaps eating a rushed breakfast in the car on the way to work; to organising your day and how you can fit all your tasks in; to disagreeing with a colleague or family member; to dealing with a bad driver on the roads – these are all stressors. We are
surrounded by stress on a daily basis – it never stops!

Continual and unrelenting stress causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. This creates a continual flow of cortisol in the bloodstream, which is highly destructive. This includes suppressed thyroid function which can cause blood sugar imbalances, impaired cognitive performance including concentration, memory, and problem solving; decrease in bone density and muscle tissue; high blood pressure which effect the function of the arteries; and increased abdominal fat which leads to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Continual stress also degrades the immune system, our protector, leaving us wide open to such things as cancer and age-related degenerative diseases. High stress levels also cause behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, unhappiness, or the opposite – extreme happiness – together with insomnia and reduced mental and physical control.

Think of it this way, any stressor will create a six hour shut-down of the immune system, when there are two or three stressors at a time whether they be emotional, physical, physiological, environmental or nutritional, we get a twelve or eighteen hour shut-down. Bereavement can throw the whole body into total hormonal bewilderment for as much as six months.

 As we age our hormones decline, in menopause our sex hormones (oestrogens and progesterone) decline drastically over a five year period, putting the body under an incredible and continual stress load. If we are already highly stressed, and are also menopausal, our stress will be exacerbated because of this factor (and we definitely will not be sleeping). Men don’t get off scot-free either, a decrease and imbalance in their sex hormones, in andropause, or as it is commonly known, ‘the male menopause’, will also exacerbate the detrimental effects of chronic stress.

How to control stress levels?

Restoring hormones to their optimal levels – the levels we had in our youth – is key to combating the devastating effects of stress on the body. This topic is covered in more detail in Jill’s book. Also key to remaining fit, healthy and youthfully active, is to ensure that we control our stress levels by doing such things as yoga, making time for ourselves, curling up with a good book, taking a hot bath, making time for sleep, and sex, along with meditation, massage, and doing moderate exercise. Eating healthily and taking high quality supplements, with the correct amount of active ingredients is also highly important to help protect yourself from the crushing effects
of chronic and daily stress. The 4 nutrients listed below can help counteract this daily stress.

4 Key Nutrients to counteract the effects of Stress

Vitamin B-50 complex

Various studies suggest that B vitamins can promote a healthy stress response. Also, stress itself may deplete family member of the B-vitamins, namely folic acid and vitamin B12 (1), serum levels. A high quality vitamin B complex can help digestive metabolic processes that may be negatively affected under times of stress, since stress slows the digestive process. Vitamin B supplementation may therefore, ameliorate the impact of negative stress from
collective angles.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is not only required for correct immune system function, it also crucial for adrenal function and the maintenance of healthy cortisol-to-DHEA levels. The adrenal glands contain more vitamin C than any other organ in the body, therefore, when stress is high more vitamin C may be required (2).

L-theanine

An amino acid that is found in green tea and is well known for its ability to enhance relaxation (3), but without the effects of drowsiness (4), as well as improving concentration. In other words, L-theanine increases attention yet is accompanied by a durable relaxed effect (5). L-theanine helps calm the brain, reduce anxiety by decreasing electrical activity, and helps decrease depression. It has also been seen to help sustain attention levels when doing long-term difficult and stressful tasks, and reduce heart rate response under acute stress tasks.  

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Phosphatidylserine is present in all cells of the body and is a vital component for healthy cellular communication. A diet rich in phosphatidylserine helps balance the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or as it is more commonly known, the HPA axis. The balance of this axis is crucial to both our mental and physical health (6), and is a key factor in controlling our resistance to stress. During times of intense, acute stress, phosphatidylserine has been seen to attenuate the increase in cortisol levels (7).    

*Multifactorial – involving or dependent on a number of factors, especially genetic or environmental factors.

Citations

  1. Berg AL, Rafnsson AT, Johannsson M, Hultberg B, Arnadottir M. The effects of adrenocorticotrophic hormone and cortisol on homocysteine and vitamin B concentrations. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2006;44(5):628-31.
  2. Brody S, Preut R, Schommer K, Schürmeyer TH. A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Jan;159(3):319-24.
  3. Vuong QV, Bowyer MC, Roach PD. L-Theanine: properties, synthesis and isolation from tea. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Aug 30;91(11):1931-9. Wakabayashi C, Numakawa T, Ninomiya M, Chiba S, Kunugi H. Behavioral and molecular evidence for psychotropic effects in L-theanine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Feb;219(4):1099-109. Nathan PJ, Lu K, Gray M, Oliver C. The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(2):21-30.
  4. Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8. Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45. Gomez-Ramirez M, Kelly SP, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. The effects of L-theanine on alpha-band oscillatory brain activity during a visuo-spatial attention task. Brain Topogr. 2009 Jun;22(1):44-51.
  5. Dimpfel W, Kler A, Kriesl E, Lehnfeld R, Keplinger-Dimpfel IK. Source density analysis of the human EEG after ingestion of a drink containing decaffeinated extract of green tea enriched with L-theanine and theogallin. Nutr Neurosci. 2007 Jun-Aug;10(3-4):169-80.
  6. Kelly GS. Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Aug;4(4):249-65. Monteleone, P., Effects of phosphatidylserine on the neuroendocrine responses to physical stress in humans., Neuroendocrinol. 1990, 52: 243-248. Benton D., The influence of phosphatidylserine supplementation on mood and heart rate when faced with an acute stressor. Nutr Neurosci. 2001;4(3):169-178. Hellhammer, J., Effects of soy lecithin phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine complex (PAS) on the endocrine and psychological responses to mental stress. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)2004, 7 (2): 119–126.
  7. Fahey TD., The hormonal and perceptive effects of phosphatidylserine administration during two weeks of resistive exercise-induced overtraining. Biol Sport. 1998;15:135-144.