This edition will focus on Stress and its chemical war on your body. It seems an appropriate health topic at this time of year, don’t you agree? Are you aware that your body releases chemicals every time you experience emotion? Yes, that’s right! Every time you feel happy, sad, angry, or afraid, your body releases a chemical cascade that affects your organs and systems for better or for worse.
There is the appropriate acute response to stress with adrenaline and norepinephrine which both work to help you run or fight when you are under attack!. Know that your body, after the event, may take a half hour or more to return to normal (unless you refuse to let go of the event mentally).
Let’s walk through the chemical cascade as you feel scared or angry. When you begin to think about, or tell someone about, something that really hurt you or scared you (no matter how long ago) your body physically experiences that event as happening right now. Your body believes it is in danger and starts to release chemicals in an attempt to keep you safe or even save your life.
Ok, here’s the cascade. First, the part of your brain called the amygdala sees a threat. It then sends a message to your hypothalamus, which releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH stimulates your pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Whew! This system is actually in place to keep you alive during things like famine or being a prisoner of war. Cortisol is called the “stress hormone.”
Optimal levels of cortisol regulate body functions, putting emphasis where needed and away from what is not necessary to protect you, like digestion or your immune function. Now you can see where I am going with this. If you remain in constant ‘cortisol drips’ those systems that aren’t considered necessary to save your life begin to suffer. Replaying old hurts can suppress your immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, and contribute to obesity and short term memory loss.
Obesity you say?! Yes, obesity! Specifically trunkal obesity. This has actually been termed “toxic fat” as belly fat is strongly correlated to heart attacks and strokes in both men and women. We feel things like fear and anger to help keep us safe; yet when we act out because of them or we are unable to move past them, they harm us physically. Think about this every time you start talking or thinking about an old hurt. You are initiating fresh cortisol ‘squirts’ and the chemical rollercoaster continues to wreak havoc on your health! Just in case you may think I am unfeeling, I have led a weekly support group since 1999 (Choose Freedom) for women who have been abused. My heart breaks for every wound you have suffered yet you can learn to look at the event without the chemical cascade! The memory remains as it is a fact; yet the feelings attached to the memory will not occur as your body learns it is no longer in danger. You may find this surprising but you are in control of what you think about. Think about that for a moment!
Forgetfulness happens when cortisol attacks your hippocampus which is where short term memory is stored, so learn to forget about stress!
To learn how to stimulate the “good chemicals” by reading the Wellbeing Tip of the Month.
Discover how to eliminate pain, the need for medications and regain your health. Contact Eileen Kopsaftis or call 518-496-1265 for a comprehensive pain/health consultation.
You deserve a long, healthy, pain-free life!
HLW Recipe of the Month: Cream of Celery Soup
This soup is pure in flavor and so simple to make. I remember savoring a Celery Consommè years ago made by a French Chef. It sang in my mouth. This is even better! No fat! Serve with some crusty whole grain bread and a green salad for a great meal. You could also pour this over baked potatoes. Yum!
Prep Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
1 onion, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
1 ½ cups non-dairy plant milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Saute onion and celery in a pot with the water until soft, about 10 minutes. Stire in the flour and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove 2 cups of the soup form the pot and place in a blender. Puree, return to the pot, and mix well. Serve at once.
I like some stock in my soup but if you prefer you can blend all of it.
You may also want to try adding 3 large diced carrots, or 1 cup of chopped broccoli, or 1 cup of chopped cauliflower, or 2-3 leeks (instead of the onion) to switch up the flavours in this soup.
HLW Tip of the Month: Release Your Feel Good Chemicals!
You can actually stimulate the release of chemicals that are designed to bring you feelings of happiness. Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphin are all chemicals your brain releases to make you feel better. Please note this may take some effort in order to create a lasting change and in no way replaces appropriate treatment from your healthcare provider. Some of the following is paraphrased from a book, Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD.
Dopamine: Feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoria, appetite control, controlled motor movements, feel focused. Loves it when you take on a new challenge. Go ahead, set a goal and go for it, one step at a time. With each success you will feel good because of dopamine.
Serotonin: Promotes and improves sleep, improves self- esteem, relieves depression, diminishes cravings, prevents agitated depression and worrying. Loves it when you feel important to others. Think of how people actually like and respect you behind your back. That will give you a real chemical boost!
Oxytocin: Promotes sexual arousal, feelings of emotional attachment, desire to cuddle. Counts on social trust to become triggered. Develop relationships that deserve your trust slowly. Give people a chance and see how good it can feel. Stimulated by Dopamine.
Endorphin: Mood elevating, enhancing, euphoric. The more present, the happier you are! Natural pain killers. Gives you actual euphoria but it is mostly to mask pain; especially if you have exercised beyond your limits. Small bursts of endorphin occur with laughter and varying your appropriate exercise routine.
Exercise boosts your happiness in multiple ways! If you have any of these issues; exercise has been shown clinically to:
• Increase happy chemical production
• Decrease your stress
• Increase your energy level
• Decrease your anxiety
• Decrease insomnia
This begs for a shameless plug for the all new Chain Reaction Exercise Class starting January.
Release Your Happy Chemicals to Have LifeLong WellBeing!