Tense relationships. Unpredicted changes of circumstance. Too many demands on your time. These are stressors you can see. But there are changes inside your body that are stressing you out!
Any time your body perceives a threat to its homeostasis (stable equilibrium), it requires extra energy to bring balance back to itself, so it releases cortisol to supply that demand.
Common physiological triggers for the cortisol response are:
- Low blood sugars. When you don’t eat enough fat or protein to carry you through to the next meal, your blood sugars plummet. Your brain, which relies on a non-stop stream of fuel 24/7, sounds the alarm for cortisol to raise blood sugars immediately.
- Chronic infection – not just recurring viruses, but perhaps an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or parasites in your gut that you can’t see; the kind of thing that triggers cravings, creates constipation and/or diarrhea, feeds your vivid bizarre dreams, shows up as a coating on your tongue, makes you feel sick in a musty environment, instigates yeast infections or athlete’s foot or jock itch, create foul-smelling body odors including gas, makes you cramp, and gives you dark circles under your eyes. These are signs that your body is challenged and needs help!
- Toxicity. Toxins can come from heavy metal exposure, pesticides and herbicides that you breathe in or ingest, cosmetic products that contain parabens and phthalates and synthetic colors or fragrances, cookware and food or beverage containers made with BPA and PFCs…the list goes on. These disrupt your normal body functions and require extra energy to detoxify them.
- Food sensitivities. When you eat something that your body is intolerant to, you release histamines to inflame the area where the offender is found so that white blood cells can more easily penetrate the tissue to surround and destroy this substance. Cortisol is then released as a follow-up anti-inflammatory – like the clean-up crew after the hurricane that has opened everything up.
Last week, in our post, Quit Stressing!, we discussed five different ways to counteract chronic cortisol output. If you are employing these methods and still feeling anxious, it’s time to see a nutritional therapy practitioner to delve into hidden causes of stress.