Can Stress on Your Body Actually Be a Good Thing?

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

December 11, 2019

I remember the very first time I traveled to Denver, Colorado. I’ll tell you what – it wasn’t pleasant.

The 5,280 feet high altitude had such an effect on me. I had to lay on my back, feet up in the air, sucking on a water bottle until I felt better.

But, with time, my body adapted and became used to the city’s decreased pressure and lower oxygen content.

Just a few years later, I lived in Lake Tahoe at an altitude of 7,300 feet. And you know, it didn’t affect me after a while.

My body was able to adapt to this natural form of stress. It learned to create more red blood cells to carry oxygen to my brain.  I was able to build up a tolerance and adapt.

The point in telling you this story is simple…

Our bodies are designed to adapt, acclimate and strengthen when presented with stress. But in today’s modern world, our levels of stress are higher than ever before.

Sometimes a Little Bit of Stress Can Strengthen Your Body

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As my story above illustrates, stress isn’t always a bad thing. You only build muscles and stronger bones by stressing them…but not to the point of injury. The same holds true with oxidative stresses within your body.

Oxidative stress is caused when highly reactive molecules called free radicals travel through your body.

As they move through your system, they react with some of the most important organic substances in your body. This includes things like fatty acids you need, your proteins, and even your DNA.

I like to think of each damaging reaction between a free radical and your body as a “little fire” of stress.

But, these “little fires” of stress in your body help you build up strength so you can deal with bigger fires down the line.

As long as you have the right intake of foods to handle it, even low grade oxidative stress can make you stronger.

It could help you deal with something you wouldn’t be able to deal with if you just suddenly found yourself in this situation.

Now, it’s important to note that humans encounter natural stressors all the time in our native environment.

These stressors can help us better adapt – just like my story about getting used to the higher altitude in Denver.

However, our modern world is filled with unnatural toxic stress that is completely man made.  These stressors are not part of our native environment and can cause disease.

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Our bodies just weren’t designed to handle these extreme levels of stress and it results in some health problems.

We are being assaulted by more stressors from our environment and food than ever before.

Heavy metals such as lead in our drinking water, mercury in our fish… air pollution from crowded streets and highways… even the chemicals from our household cleaners…

They are all modern toxins that can cause havoc in our bodies, causing everything from mitochondrial dysfunction to tissue damage.

For instance, an article from the Australian Family Physician journal discussed how pesticides may be related to various diseases – include some forms of cancers.  They can also have neurological, mental, and reproductive effects on humans.

Another article in the Alternative Medicine Review blames chemical stressors in our food, air, and water. It cites links to immune dysfunction, asthma, mood changes, allergies, and even changes in libido.

Even our technologies and work habits are causing more stress than in years past.

Just think about it. We’re always “on.” We’re always connected to the bustling world around us. Then, we are not getting our eight hours of sleep – which causes gut microbe disruptions… causing even more problems in our bodies.

Even the foods we eat are inflammatory.

We’re eating too much inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids while using things like vegetable oils and margarines. Sure, we need some Omega-6 to help strengthen your body, but our ratios are way off these days.

The refined white carbohydrates in flour, rice, and white sugar contribute to the problem as we layer one more stressor, chronically elevated glucose and insulin on top of each other.

And this chronic oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation and health problems. That’s where the right types of foods can play an important role.

My Top Food Recommendations to Offset Chronic Stress

Foods with high levels of antioxidants help reduce the amount of free radicals coursing through your system.

My best recommendations are brightly colored foods in a rainbow diet. Eat foods that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple – rather than the white or beige foods so many of us are used to.

Besides providing all of the nutrients your body needs, these foods can also be a great source of antioxidants. My absolute favorite are blueberries.

I usually eat three containers of blueberries every week – mixing it with my plant-based vanilla yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, bananas, pineapple or mango. I always get my blueberries though – whether it’s in a smoothie or on a salad with my organic walnuts.

Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants to help with my levels of chronic oxidative stress.

I also recommend taking 2-3 grams of curcumin on a regular basis. It’s a fantastic natural anti-inflammatory and can help you battle conditions like dementia and arthritis.

Remember, a few “little fires” are okay, but just don’t let your entire house burn down.

Sources: 

Cohen, M. “Environmental toxins and health: the health impact of pesticides.” Australian Family Physician. Vol 26 Issue 12 (2007 Dec). https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=355467860496836;res=IELHEA

Crinnion, WJ. “Environmental medicine, part one: the human burden of environmental toxins and their common health effects.” Alternative Medicine Review: a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 01 Feb 2000, 5(1):52-63. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/10696119

Harvard Medical School. “Taking It All In: Environmental toxins and your health.” https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/OCER/files/Taking%20It%20All%20In%20Reading%20Materials%20Web.pdf

Nair AR et al. Blueberry supplementation attenuates oxidative stress within monocytes and modulates immune cell levels in adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Food Funct. 2017 Nov 15;8(11):4118-4128. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00815e. Accessed Online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29019365

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