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Chronic Stress


While Stress is multifactorial, in this article I will discuss how it pertains to nutrition and physical degradation. Chronic stress is long term stress, it falls under the umbrella of mental health and is linked to many major diseases. Cortisol is the hormone that is continuously released during periods of excess stress, and our brain is the most vulnerable to chronic states of stress. If prolonged, it can affect our prefrontal cortex, our decision making, memory filing, happiness, and perception.


Stress is a normal response to a stressor. It is our response to a demand based on our perception. It is also known as the “fight, flight or freeze”. Everyone will have their own reaction to a stressor. One of the main purposes of a stress response is to preserve life by removing ourselves from a dangerous situation. During a response, our pupils dilate, heart rate increases, blood vessels and veins narrow, digestion and excretion of bodily waste shuts down. If stress is prolonged, nutrient assimilation and absorption will decrease. A gradual decrease of our body’s supply of nutrients will occur as they are used to nourish organs in great need. Often vital organs will get preferential treatment while skin, muscles, veins etc. will have to take a back seat until either the stress clears or there is a plentiful supply of essential nutrients. Chronic stress may contribute to dental caries and gum disease by depleting valuable nutrients that support gum health and mineralization of teeth. Chronic stimulation of stress will also increase your wants and needs for sugary and salty foods. This can lead to food binging as well as a bacterial imbalance in our gut.


The long term effects of elevated stress can increase blood sugar, which may and can lead to disorders such as diabetes, nutrient depletion, liver damage, oversized midsection, weight gain, premature aging (shortening *telomeres) , high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, hormonal imbalance, sleep loss, hair loss, diminished sex drive, damage to the circulatory system, infertility, constipation, body and joint pain, muscle loss, brittle bones, skin issues, acidic blood, weakened immune system, low energy, bacterial imbalance, altered mood, headaches and migraines, systemic inflammation, and can lead to injury, disability or premature death.


Chronic stress may lead to hormonal imbalances in both women and men. It can affect fertility. If stress is too great, our body will not want to bring a child into a perceived hostile environment.

Types of stress include: Physical, Social, Psychological, Food, Environmental, Marital, Personal Fulfillment, Financial, Circadian Disruption, and Chronic Blue Light.


One of the main side effects of stress is visceral fat. It is the fat that surrounds and sits on our organs. It can accumulate during periods of stress and is associated with metabolic syndrome. It can also produce systemic inflammation throughout our bodies. An interesting fact is that inflammation can be present anywhere with or without our awareness. Visceral fat will contribute to the bloated belly look.


As chronic stress and other mental health conditions are rising we need to treat them in a similar manner as physical stress or trauma, and look at nutrition as a therapeutic option to heal those who suffer. Stress needs to be supported through nutritional therapy. This is critical. This type of therapy is too often overlooked. We have an epidemic of children in our schools who cannot resolve certain issues pertaining to stress due to poor nutrients in their daily diet, which may lead to behavioural changes. Frequently medical therapy and psychotherapy are prescribed and can be helpful but typically not much is done to address the core issue on a molecular and cellular level. We need to support our young ones because they may not be aware of the possible detriment to come, If not recognized or addressed they may feel isolated and alone. Pharmaceutical medication may help long term success of bringing our children back to health but there are many other modalities can help and should be included. A great nutrition plan can enable us to deal with stressors accordingly and not fall down a rabbit hole.


This informative article does not scratch the surface of manifestations that branch from stress. We can break the cycle but only if we choose to. With the right support, we all can become mentally healthier by learning lasting techniques that will support our true selves. We have to learn to enter a state of calm and at the same time nutritionally support all of the body’s needs in order to get through these times. While we all perceive and cope with stress in different ways, a protocol designed specifically for our needs can help. One of the key factors to healing from chronic stress is finding the right support to assist us in coming back into balance. Recovery space is needed to heal from chronic stress. First we must acknowledge our current state and our feelings. Then we can either choose to stay in our current position or create an opportunity let such feelings go. We can make a decision on exactly what we want and how we are going to accomplish it.


For a Holistic protocol and some simple solutions contact me at info@simplywholistic.ca


Check out my previous article on Telomeres - The Aging Factor

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