Hormones and Chronic Stress
Our bodies are capable of producing the amounts of hormones we need, at any age, as long as we provide the right resources, nutrients, have a working digestive system and give our bodies the space it needs.
Fight or Flight
By space I mean time, particularly time without anything that triggers your stress response system. This is a main pathway within the endocrine system, the mechanism behind fight or flight. When we are faced with a real or even perceived threat, our brain sends an alert through the endocrine system to spark an action.
This triggers the adrenal glands to release more hormones; primarily norepinephrine (adrenaline), cortisone, and cortisol. These hormones are our stress hormones. When they are active, most other necessary hormones are depressed.
That means, if a system is not critical for your survival there’s no need to send precious resources to it. You don’t need to be able digest the contents in your gut if you don’t survive. Digestion is one of the most energy intensive processes your body undertakes, so if you need energy to run away or fight a threat, your body is not going to want to expend the bulk of its energy on digesting your meal.
This is a highly-evolved process and makes a lot of sense, especially today we create a lot of stress for ourselves that is unnecessary for which our bodies have to contend with.
If you struggle with chronic stress:
- You will not be able to properly digest and utilize the nutrients you consume – even if you eat well.
- You will not produce non-survival hormones like estrogen in the levels you need to feel your best.
- Your detoxification system will not flush out metabolized, used, or unused hormones.
When our hormones are functioning properly, our personal resources and energy will go toward thriving, not just surviving. Simple mechanisms will work properly such as fat burning instead of storage. Inflammation will lower, and other physical symptoms of stress can subside. Let’s save our fight or flight response for times where it’s necessary and encourage our hormones to function optimally.