Tag Archives: stress reduction

American heart month

Heart Health: How Stress Affects Your Heart

February is American Heart Month. Although you should be living in a way that contributes to heart health all year long, this month is a time to really spread the word.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  It’s estimated that 2,200 Americans die from heart disease each day.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to keep your heart healthy. One of them is to take a look at your stress levels, which contribute to your risk of heart disease. But first, here are some facts about stress.

Stress Facts

1. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60-80 percent of visits to primary care doctors are stress related.

2. Chronic stress is linked to heart disease, asthma, infertility, weight gain, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, digestive problems, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, hair loss, accelerated aging, insomnia, muscle pain, dizziness/lightheadedness, and memory problems (just to name a few).

3. What’s more, many stress-related symptoms are a “mystery” to doctors. Your traditional lab tests come back “normal”. You may be told it’s all in your head and/or given a prescription for an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication.

4. Stress related ailments cost the US $300 billion each year (that’s $100 billion more than the cost of obesity).

5. Stress can be broken down into physical, mental, environmental, and emotional categories. That means even if you don’t feel “stressed”, your body may be under stress due to nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormonal imbalance, too much (or too intense) exercise, bad relationships/toxic people, environmental toxins, negative thought patterns, and/or a poor sleep schedule.

6. Chronic stress can negatively affect your heart health, raising your risk of both heart attack and stroke.

Stress and Heart Health

When you’re stressed, it causes a hormonal cascade in your body. During stress, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that increases your heart rate and breathing rate, which, in turn, increases your blood pressure. In normal situations, after the stressor has gone away, the stress response goes away too and your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate return to normal.

On the other hand, when stress is constant (like it is for so many of us), your body stays in this stress response for days, weeks, months, or even years. In addition to the actual physiological response, stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, like drinking, smoking, and eating junk food.

Ways to Reduce Stress

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to manage your stress. The best way to get a handle on things is to do these things regularly, not just when you feel stressed.

Some great ways to reduce stress include:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • eating a healthy diet
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • getting enough sleep
  • avoiding procrastination
  • finding a balance between work and relaxation
  • limiting time spent on technology
  • spending time with friends, family, and loved ones
  • reducing alcohol intake
  • avoiding toxic relationships
  • spending time with animals

What are your favorite stress reduction techniques? Do you swear by yoga or mediation? Leave us a comment and let us know. We want to know more!

Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon Against Stress

What if we told you that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are due to stress-related illnesses? Even worse, what if we told you that stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death?

In recent years, stress has developed into a $1 trillion health epidemic. That’s more expensive than the cost of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. So what can you do? How can you manage stress in an era that seems to glorify the concept of “busy”?

While it’s true that you can’t get rid of stress completely (some stress is actually good), there are many things that you can do to manage it. You probably already know about the big guys — meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, for example — but there’s another player in the game that frequently falls off the radar, and that’s adaptogens.

What are Adaptogens?

The term adaptogens was first coined by a Russian pharmacologist named Lazarev in 1947. He defined an adaptogen as any agent that helps an organism counteract any physical, chemical, or biological stressor by generating a nonspecific resistance. In simpler terms, an adaptogen is a substance that helps reduce stress levels by acting on the body as a whole.

In addition to helping reduce stress, adaptogens also:

  • increase energy and stamina
  • improve strength and mental focus
  • boost the immune system
  • balance mood
  • support a healthy weight
True Adaptogens

Many herbs are credited with being adaptogens: but in order to be considered a real adaptogen, a substance must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be non-toxic to the person taking it.
  2. It must act on many organs and body systems (rather than just one) and allow the person taking it to better adapt to biological, chemical, and physical stressors.
  3. It must help the body maintain homeostasis (or normal functioning).

Examples of true adaptogens include:

  • American Ginseng root
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Asian Ginseng root
  • Cordyceps
  • Dang Shen root
  • Eleuthero root
  • Holy Basil herb
  • Jiaogulan herb
  • Licorice rhizome
  • Reishi fungus
  • Rhaponticum root
  • Rhodiola root
  • Wu Wei Zi Berries/Seeds
  • Maca Root
  • Astragalus
How to Take Adaptogens

Luckily, many of these adatogens are easily accessible. Some of them are available as teas, while others are added to protein powders or liquid multi-vitamin products. Intramax, which is dubbed the “crown jewel of multi-vitamins” contains a stress management matrix that offers Ashwagandha, licorice, astragalus, and ginseng all in one place.

The best stress management program combines several methods of stress relief and management, but adaptogens should definitely be a part of that puzzle.