Friday, February 27, 2015

How Chronic Stress Affects the Body, Part 3: Effects of Energy Drinks and Lack of Sleep

I remember feeling consistently run down, despite exercising. Needing the energy to keep up I turned to coffee drinks and always had an ample supply of Red Bulls, Monster Drinks, and Starbucks Double Shot drinks just to keep me going, but they eventually stopped working, and I kept having to up the doses just to get some type of effect, seeming to only cause more inflammation and make matters worse.

“Why did this happen?” I asked Dr. Boyd.
“As the adrenal glands begins to fatigue, the Cortisol levels needed to help provide the body with the energy it requires to combat stress, illness, infection, and bleeding, flat line, so you will no longer get the desired spikes when needed.  Your body begins craving things with sugars and caffeine in order to try to get the adrenals jump-started.  But the caffeine places additional stress on the adrenals. Until, eventually, the adrenals stop working all together. It is not recommended to drink the sugary energy drinks as they will only make matters worse, not to mention it will cause you to gain weight. A good option is to drink a large glass of water with a large freshly squeezed lemon.  You may add a small amount of Stevia for sweetness.  The lemon water will have a cleansing and detoxification effect, and it will also jump start your day. 
“At the expense of changing the subject, the whole cop and donuts stereotype is beginning to make perfect sense to me now, actually.” I chuckled. “Poor guys are consistently stressed.” I continued. 
“You mentioned that the adrenals get suppressed. Is there anything we can do to support the adrenals?” I asked.
“Certain supplements and amino acids help, but one of the most crucial things people tend to forsake is sleep. Sleep is a way to restore your body’s cells back to normal. Seven to eight hours is recommended so that your body can repair itself and recharge its batteries. Also, it is important to exercise at least 3 times a week and incorporate prayer or meditation into your daily routine to help calm your mind,” said Dr. Boyd.
Whether you believe in prayer or meditation, finding things to help calm your mind like Tai Chi, yoga, or other activities is extremely effective. Aside from writing, I had to examine what I enjoyed doing the most and MAKE time for it, even if it was on a small scale. For me, sitting outside my balcony and reading a book or working on a crossword puzzle was relaxing. My husband finds going to the gun range calming because he is focused on nothing but a target. I would imagine that anything that helps a person calm their mind and relax is important.

“Thank you, Dr. Boyd. I really appreciate your input,” I said. “I remember when I began to lose my sleep, and no matter how hard I tried, I would get but four hours of sleep a day, which led to a lot of irritability and mood swings. Another doctor started me on 5HTP and Melatonin, and it helped tremendously, but unfortunately, my hormone levels by this time were so destabilized that my body completely shut down, which led to an imbalance of testosterone levels, causing Andropause, a condition most commonly seen in men.”
Looking back, the excessive daily training in Krav Maga, five times a week, exacerbated the problem because Krav Maga’s goal is to train a person under stressful conditions. With that said, does this mean that anyone undergoing stress should never practice Krav Maga, or any high impact sport for that matter? Not at all. The type of stress that I am referring to is the CHRONIC type—excessive, nonstop, don’t have the time to ever decompress stress.  There are many health benefits to exercise, but people undergoing chronic stress may benefit more by balancing Krav Maga with other exercises such as Tai Chi, yoga, swimming, strength training, even walking or hiking.

This whole experience has required a complete lifestyle change on my part, and I’m learning new ways to find balance in my life. It’s not always easy. With a crime fighting husband and a rambunctious little one, managing a writing career, holding the fort, and finding time to do what I love can prove to be challenging. Now, I make it a point to make sure I find time to release that valve, and if I don’t, my loving husband goes out of his way to ensure that I get a break to focus on me. It’s not only needed, but extremely necessary and mandatory for not only the benefit of my body, but a happier family. I now force, yes FORCE myself to get at least myself to bed at a time that will allow me a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. It’s amazing how much energy you get just doing that. I used to be of the, “I’ll rest when I’m dead," mentality, and while that worked when I was younger, I found that as I aged I was working myself to that grave a lot sooner.

It’s not easy saying this, but I’ve regained much of my weight back, and have since started treatment for bioidentical hormone therapy, plant-based pellets called BIOTE, which changed my life from night to day. Most men with this condition are placed on T-shots (testosterone shots). Unless I wanted to grow a nice beard like a Chia pet and a full set of chest hair, my body couldn’t handle that large amount of testosterone found in those shots.  The BIOTE restored me with the hormones I needed in my body to reach a state of balance. I am now able to workout every day, but it’s balanced with strength training, walking, yoga, cycling and of course, can’t neglect my second child: Krav Maga. 

It was a gradual process, started at 20 minutes, moved to 30, 45, and now I am able to do 1hr of a cardio bag workout, trying to be conscious of not over doing it, hard to do, cause I will literally work through pain to the point where my husband will come up and remove whatever it is I’m lifting if I so much as grunt or grimace. Ugh! Annoying, yes. I hate when he does that, but it’s for my own good. All in baby steps so as not to start taxing those adrenals again. Because of my condition, I don’t believe I’m going to participate in high intensity exercise on a daily basis again. I’ll leave that for the young-ins. My goal now is to lose the weight, manage stress, work on my PTSD, and perfect my technique. It’s a new beginning. I’ve been very blessed to have another fresh start where I can wake up feeling like I’m ready to conquer the world and not like I got run down by a semi. The best part about being at the bottom of the pit and clawing your way out is that there is only one way to go but up.

JAX
If you enjoyed reading this, and would like to get updates about my next posts, please feel free to subscribe or visit again. Until then, I wish you peace, love, and blessings!

*Dr. James Todd Boyd is an expert in Chiropractic Neuroscience, specializing in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture to help bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance. NSRT combines biofeedback, laser induction therapy, and nutrition.  He has seen much success through this treatment. Allergies have been very responsive with NSRT.  They also have the first documented case of having successfully treated a patient with a severe red meat allergy after being bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Until now, there had been no known cure.  They regularly see patients with adrenal fatigue, eczema, and even autism with incredible results by simply using the NSRT.  Detecting stress and then changing the way the body responds to that stress is key to helping the body get to a state of true health and wellness. You may reach him at his website or his new practice at the following:
Integra Wellness Center
1040 Edgewater Corporate Prkway
Indian Land, SC
803-548-7007






Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Chronic Stress Affects the Body, Part 2: Effects of Toxic Family Environments

Chronic fatigue, depression, joint stiffness, aches and pains, weight gain, destabilized hormones, constipation, compromised immune function all mirrored every single symptom I had experienced in over a span of the last several years.

Dr. Boyd continued, “Oftentimes, doctors will address and treat the symptoms or conditions such as depression and will prescribe an anti-depressant, addressing only the symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem. But even those anti-depressants come with their own set of side effects that may lead to other issues.” His statement rang true as I recalled one of my doctors wanting to put me on Prozac when I complained of constant fatigue. The last thing I wanted was to mask the problem with a drug. I didn’t want that. I wanted to heal my body from the inside out.

He agreed. Most of our issues come from stress. Even the American Medical Association states that 80-85% of today’s illnesses are caused by some sort of underlying stress: physical, emotional, and chemical (such as nutrition or pesticides).

Cancer, Tumors, heart disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohns Disease, Eczema, allergies, ADD/ ADHD, autism, and obesity are all stress related disorders. If you cannot manage stress, the body will eventually give you signs that something is out of balance.

“Are there people who are more susceptible to stress than others?” I continued.

"Everyone is exposed to stress. But people who work in high stress jobs such as law enforcement, soldiers, teachers, business owners, even moms are at a higher risk as they wrestle with chronic stress every day," he asserted.

“Would people who grew up in toxic family environments where there was domestic abuse, alcoholism, or drug addictions contribute to that as well?” I wondered, considering the environment I was raised in filled with strife, drama, emotional and physical manipulation, and physical altercations-- the perfect recipe for the makings of a writer.
Photo credit:
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

“It is very possible, yes, because physical abuse leads to emotional stress and emotional stress is probably the most detrimental of stresses because the stressful emotion can replay itself over and over again in your mind. While being frightened by a barking dog will increase stress for a moment and then return to normal, it is our emotions that stay with us all day and all night long. We tend to dwell on them, which creates the chronic stress. For example... the young child who was physically abused by a parent can easily carry those stresses into adulthood if they do not learn how to deal with the stress. Think about it, is it the physical pain or the emotional pain that will cause an adult to seek therapy or counseling later in life? It is our emotional pain that we carry with us everywhere. If we don't learn how to deal with it... then it is going to deal with us eventually,” he said.

I think I carried that emotional pain with me for many years, which is why I used writing to be able to handle and process those negative emotions; but as the stressors of life increased, it slowly but surely ate away at my health. The unbearable burden of going through a divorce and trying to keep up with several jobs to help raise my little one may have been the breaking point. I remember consistently feeling run down, and no matter how much I exercised, it all seemed to be snowballing like an unstoppable avalanche.

(Thank you for reading part 2 on chronic stress. If you would like to read part 1, click here. If you would like to get notified when the third part is posted, subscribe to my blog or feel free to stop by again.)

*Dr. James Todd Boyd is an expert in Chiropractic Neuroscience, specializing in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture to help bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance. NSRT combines biofeedback, laser induction therapy, and nutrition. He has seen much success through this treatment. Allergies have been very responsive with NSRT. They also have the first documented case of having successfully treated a patient with a severe red meat allergy after being bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Until now, there had been no known cure. They regularly see patients with adrenal fatigue, eczema, and even autism with incredible results by simply using the NSRT. Detecting stress and then changing the way the body responds to that stress is key to helping the body get to a state of true health and wellness. You may reach him at his website or his new practice at the following:
www.compasshealthnc.com
Integra Wellness Center
1040 Edgewater Corporate Prkway
Indian Land, SC
803-548-7007

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Chronic Stress Affects the Body

During World War I, shell shock was described as the reaction of soldiers to the trauma of battle. This apparent reaction led to symptoms such as being unable to reason, sleep, walk or talk. "Simply put, after even the most obedient soldier had enough shells rain down on him, without any means of fighting back, he often lost all self control. At the time, the concept of shell shock was ill defined.” [1]

In World War II and thereafter, the diagnosis of "shell shock" was replaced by that of combat stress reaction, a similar but not identical response to the trauma of warfare. Not everyone understood or empathized with this phenomena, especially when soldiers seemed to exhibit no other signs of injuries or head wounds other than symptoms of fatigue. In fact, it is documented that General Patton once slapped soldier Paul G. Bennet, for claiming that his nerves would get the best of him, so he refused to go back to the field. Patton saw that as an act of cowardice and a slap to the face ensued.[2]

Throughout the years, this condition morphed into words such as battle fatigue syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorders, which is a psychological disorder that develops in some individuals who have had major traumatic experiences.

Whatever name you give this condition they all seem to have one common denominator that causes a shut down of the metabolic system and results in a domino effect of serious problems to the body: CHRONIC STRESS.

I can speak with some type of authority in the subject matter of chronic stress because I lived with it for a large portion of my life. Although, it will probably never compare to the types of traumas our soldiers have had to endure, I used this comparison to illustrate the seriousness that chronic stress can cause on one’s metabolic system.

If you read my past blog, “The Day My Body Yelled, STOP!” I detailed the many symptoms I experienced which led to a metabolic shutdown that caused me to stop practicing Krav Maga for an extended period of time. In order to get a better understanding of why that happened, I interviewed an expert in the field of chiropractic neuroscience, from Charlotte, N.C., who specializes in stress reduction therapy, Dr. James Todd Boyd.[3]

Photo credit:
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol
“Can you explain what happens when the body is experiencing an excessive amount of stress?” I asked.

"Sure, when a person is in a state of stress, the body's response is to engage into the fight or flight mode which releases hormones from the adrenal glands such as Cortisol, DHEA, and Adrenaline.  The Cortisol levels go up to help deal with the stress, so the body’s job then is to bring those levels back to normal. Your brain then releases neurotransmitters to normalize those levels. Cortisol is supposed to naturally spike up in the morning upon waking and then gradually go down as the day goes on so that we can get to sleep at night.  When we are under chronic stress, our adrenals cannot produce the proper amounts of Cortisol and it just flat-lines all day long.  The adrenals literally wear themselves out so that you can't get that extra jump-start when you need it most.  This in turn will throw the other neurotransmitters out of balance and then nothing functions properly.  When that happens, you may experience symptoms such as:


Chronic fatigue
Depression
Joint stiffness
Aches and pains
Weight gain
Destabilized hormones
Constipation
Compromised immune function which can lead to illness

Hearing him speak of Cortisol, the hormone needed to deal with stress, I compare that to gas in a car. Our body is the car that needs the gas to keep running. What happens if we run our car at an accelerated rate all the time without ever taking the time to fill it with more gas? After we're done running on fumes, our vehicle will eventually shut down. Like the car, we can't keep running our body at an accelerated rate without ever giving it time to replace it with more of the hormones, or gas, we need to bring it back down to a state of balance. The results to our vehicle, our body, can prove disastrous. 

(This is a three-part segment that will be posted this week. If you enjoyed reading this and would like to get notified when the other two will go live, subscribe to my post or feel free to come back. Thank you for reading!)


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_shock
2. Keane, Michael. "Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer."

3. Dr. James Todd Boyd is an expert in Chiropractic Neuroscience, specializing in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture to help bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance. NSRT combines biofeedback, laser induction therapy, and nutrition.  He has seen much success through this treatment. Allergies have been very responsive with NSRT.  They also have the first documented case of having successfully treated a patient with a severe red meat allergy after being bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Until now, there had been no known cure.  They regularly see patients with adrenal fatigue, eczema, and even autism with incredible results by simply using the NSRT.  Detecting stress and then changing the way the body responds to that stress is key to helping the body get to a state of true health and wellness. You may reach him at his website or his new practice at the following:

Integra Wellness Center
1040 Edgewater Corporate Prkway
Indian Land, SC
803-548-7007