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Stress was originally a physics term to explain elasticity however, Hans Selye is regarded as the physician who first used the term "stress" to describe the human condition that we understand today.

 

 

 

In evolutionary terms stress has enabled the human species to survive, it is a physical response when the body responds to an apparent attack, triggering the "fight or flight" response. It is still helpful today to enable us to respond to potentially life threatening situations.


However, more usually in modern life, the body is unable to distinguish between life threatening situations and non-life threatening situations. Life today is full of small stresses, whatever your line of work. Children (of any age), financial pressures, illness of yourself or caring for an ill friend or relative, elderly parents, work situations, as well as the smaller daily stresses: late for work, deadlines, children's tantrums etc.

How we respond as individuals to stress

Specific hormones are released in response to stress as part of the sympathetic nervous system, initially adrenalin followed by cortisol. Adrenalin helps us to cope with the threat, cortisol is released later, it shuts down non essential body systems, such as digestion and reproduction it puts glucose back into the bloodstream to give us energy to deal with the situation. What we eat can also be stored more quickly as fat, particularly around the abdomen.


Our own individual response to stress is critical to the way it affects our health, some people seem more resilient than others, this can be influenced by genetics as well as environmental factors and their own nutrition.
The body systems most affected by stress are:

  • Nervous
  • Hormonal
  • Digestive
  • Immune

In each individual affected by stress a different system may be affected first resulting in different symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue, feeling tired for no reason
  • Tired on getting up in the morning, even after a full night's sleep.
  • Difficulty getting going in the morning
  • Craving salty or sweet foods
  • Having a second wind late at night.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness on standing
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido

 

For some, one system can be affected for a long time, for others they may be affected by dysregulation in all systems in quick succession. Stress is seen to target the weakest body system.

Current interventions to address stress typically centre on removing the stress, meditation or counselling. However, correct nutrition is also an integral part of helping the body to recover. The correct nutrition can:

  • help to support your adrenal system, rebalancing cortisol and DHEA levels,
  • address the digestive, hormonal, immune or nervous system problems caused by stress
  • Improve your ongoing response to stress
How can NutriJen help?

A simple saliva test can assess levels of hormones, Cortisol and DHEA allowing for an assessment of the stage of stress that an individual is at. Using the test results and in conjunction with a comprehensive health history and a food diary, I can devise a personalised nutrition plan that will address your own imbalances. By reviewing your health, diet and lifestyle I can support you in incorporating the necessary changes, re-balancing your hormones and improving your quality of life.

I experienced stress and fatigue a number of years ago and understand what it is like to feel as if your not functioning properly, but it is possible to feel well again and enjoy life.

Quite a number of years ago I was stressed and exhausted but I didn't recognise it, I thought that it was just life and it was how every busy mother felt.

My husband was chronically unwell, one son was receiving paediatrician's care for chronic constipation and our eldest child, who had verbal dyspraxia and dyslexia, was needing lots of extra support. In addition I was pregnant and we were building a house. This was our life and I just got on with it.


When our baby was a year old we moved into the new house and this was when my body finally said enough. It took all my energy to get of bed on a morning, I would repeatedly press snooze on the alarm clock. On returning home from taking my older children to school and I would sit down with a cup of tea or coffee willing myself to find the energy to get on with all the work I needed to do. One memorable Boxing Day morning I got out of bed, to go to one of our children, and went light-headed. I fell backwards banging my head on a wooden floor and spent the rest of the day on the sofa with mild concussion.


Then my husband came across an article about adrenal fatigue, it explained the symptoms that may be experienced:

  • Fatigue, feeling tired for no reason
  • Tired on getting up in the morning, even after a full night's sleep.
  • Difficulty getting going in the morning
  • Craving salty or sweet foods
  • Having a second wind late at night.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness on standing
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido

I completely dismissed it saying that all of the symptoms were normal and any mother in the school playground would feel like that because that is life.  My husband gave me the article and told me to read it.

I realised that how I felt was not normal and that I could feel better. I was so busy keeping everything going that I didn't have time to stop and think about me - I was overwhelmed.
I read more about adrenal dysfunction and how it affects other hormones and causes imbalances in the body systems and it all made sense. I realised that it wasn't how I was meant to be feeling. Most importantly I read about how I could start to feel better; how specific nutrients and supplements could support my body and particularly my adrenal glands. With help I slowly recovered and realised that although not everyone in the playground was feeling the same as me I could not be the only one feeling the way I did.
This was one of the reasons that I changed careers and went on to qualify as a Nutritional Therapist. I understand what it feels like to be stressed and exhausted and also to feel so overwhelmed that it is difficult to know how to move forward. I also know how good if feels to now be able to start the day refreshed and be able to respond to the demands of the day. I am now more in tune with my body and I am able to recognise when I am starting to feel stressed again and need to take a little more care.


If any of what you have read sounds familiar then seek help from your local BANT registered Nutritional Therapist and ask for an assessment or contact me to arrange an assessment and take the first step to regaining control of your health.