Stress has a profound effect on the body besides making us feel bad in the moment and interrupting our sleep. Here’s a peek at the other “hidden” damage stress can cause:

  • Increased cortisol production: Associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), inability to lose weight or gain muscle, premature aging.
  • Decreased nutrient absorption: Due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas and liver, decreased bile flow from gall bladder, decreased oxygenation and gastrointestinal blood flow.
  • Increased nutrient excretion: Urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium, and various microminerals.
  • Decreased gut flora populations: Healthy intestinal bacteria are destroyed by stress, which can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress.
  • Increase in salt retention: Can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Decrease in thermic efficiency: Your ability to burn calories is diminished.
  • Decrease in thyroid hormone: Can lead to a decrease in metabolic activity throughout the body.
  • Increase in blood cholesterol: Stress by itself will raise LDL levels.
  • Increase in blood platelet aggregation: A major risk factor in heart disease.
  • Decrease in sex hormones: Can mean lower sex drive, low energy, decreased muscle mass.
  • Increase in inflammation: The basis of many significant ailments, including brain and heart disease.
  • Increase in gastric emptying time: Can lead to constipation; also a risk factor in diseases of the colon.
  • Decrease in gastric emptying time: Can lead to diarrhea and larger food particles prematurely entering the small intestines, a probable factor in food allergies, sensitivities, and various disease conditions.
  • Increased swallowing rate: A fast swallowing rate is a likely factor in digestive upset.
  • Increased food sensitivities and allergies: Plenty of anecdotal evidence, most likely due to decreased immunity and leaky gut.
  • Decrease in growth hormone: A key hormone in growing, healing and rebuilding body tissues; helps to burn fat and build muscle.
  • Increase in insulin resistance: Chronic low-level stress may cause target cells to become unresponsive to insulin, a factor in diabetes, weight gain, heart disease and aging.
  • Increase in erratic function of LES: Lower esophegeal sphincter opens inappropriately, causing gastric reflux (also known as heartburn).
  • Increase in oxidative stress: Prematurely ages the body; a precursor to numerous diseases.
  • Increase in risk of osteoporosis: Bone density has been shown to decrease in stresses and depressed women; stress increases urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium and boron.
  • Decrease in mitochondria: These are the energy powerhouses of the cell; when the number of these tiny cellular organelles are diminished, we literally produce less energy; can lead to chronic fatigue.

Mindfulness techniques can help reduce the stress effect on the body. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and exercise all have positive effects. More on this in a future blog post! In the meantime, pay attention to your body and try to relax whenever you start to feel tense and anxious. It’s well worth the short time it takes.

The Effects of Stress On The Body