While stress is unavoidable (and in fact good for you in manageable doses), I don’t believe most people appreciate that chronic unremitting ‘stress’ does significant physical harm:
- It causes accelerated arterial plaque leading to increased heart attack and stroke risk.
- It, in animal models, causes ‘stripping‘ of brain neuronal synapses, increasing the risk of chronic brain and memory impairment.
- It has been linked in observational studies to a higher prevalence of heart attack presentations at the time of stress.
- Long term studies have shown an increased mortality (usually of a cardiovascular cause) over 40 years (somewhere between a 50% and a 100% increase) in those that have ‘ever’ had major depression.
- It leads to abdominal (dangerous) weight gain and predisposition to Diabetes (thanks to an increase in Cortisol amongst other mechanisms) and Cholesterol abnormalities.
- Chronic stress may accelerate premature ageing by shortening DNA telomeres – the ‘caps’ on the ends of your chromosomes. As they become shorter, their structural integrity weakens, which is associated with earlier mortality and an increased prevalence of chronic disease.
- Causes impairment in wound healing in studies of spouses in ‘toxic marriages’, implying an immune dysregulation.
What to do
We believe that the best thing you can do is have a thorough medical focusing particularly on assessing any outcomes of stress damage on your body. With advances in medical understanding of the effects of stress and interactions between bodily systems, advances in medical imaging and bloodwork, we can now interrogate your systems to benchmark any damage performed and redress these issues.
Once the expert medical assessment has been completed and you are much clearer about the role of stress in your life, steps can be taken to minimise and reduce any stress.
We aim to educate, encourage and ensure that our clients are minimising their (often overlapping) risk factors for both cardiovascular disease (heart disease is the number-one cause of death for women in Australia) and cancer risk by:
- Not smoking,
- Remaining lean,
- Following a plant-based, natural diet such as the Mediterranean diet,
- Mitigating stress (which damages arteries and can disrupt the immune system as well as causing brain cell dysfunction and loss), and
- Being physically active (in a way that works for them).
Eating right, exercising, meditating, sleeping better and surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones – and reducing stress – could add years to your life.
It sounds really simple, right? Putting an end to chronic stress can seem insurmountable when you are caught in the middle of it. Speaking with our Doctors can provide you with the facts on how chronic stress is affecting you specifically and what you can do to minimise the impact to your lifespan.