Your body has a natural tendency towards health and wellness. But you may still be doing things to undermine it. And in many cases, all the drugs, exercise, and other treatments in the world won’t help unless you address this one thing first.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate this point. Todd B. came to my office in poor health. “I’m at my wit’s end,” he said. “I’ve seen eight different health experts, including diet and nutrition specialists, and several doctors. I’m taking four prescription medications and spending a lot of money on other natural healthcare products. But none of it’s working.”
He was overweight, with low energy, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, an almost non-existent sex drive, low testosterone, and high triglyceride levels. He was also deficient in a few key vitamins and nutrients.
Todd was an entrepreneur with executive responsibilities at several different companies. He estimated he was working about 80 hours a week on average. He managed to squeeze in about ten more hours of running on a treadmill in his basement to stay in shape.
He said he rarely had time to prepare his own meals and frequently ate “on-the-go”. And with all the things he had to look after in his various businesses. He also slept an average of five hours a night. I told him I could help him reverse all his health problems, but he first had to deal with their underlying cause: stress.
The fact is that chronic stress can be deadly. And high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and struggles with weight are just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the main physical responses stress sets off is hormonal: cortisol, the “stress hormone.” When you’re stressed out, your adrenal glands start pumping it into your bloodstream. Too much cortisol can be devastating to your health over time. In fact, we’re still learning just how dangerous it is.
Here are a few of the latest findings my Wellness Research team’s uncovered:
• Mental Illness: Chronic high levels of cortisol put you at greater risk for a host of psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety—or worse. A recent study found that schizophrenics have abnormally high cortisol levels. Another found that women suffering from a number of personality and mood disorders also have too much cortisol in their bloodstreams.
• Diabetes: High cortisol levels increase your insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to diabetes. This is true regardless of your level of fitness. Researchers in the UK studied cortisol levels in 29 middle-aged healthy men with a range of body fat percentages, and found that insulin resistance increased in step with amount of cortisol in their bloodstreams, no matter how slim they were.
• Diet and Obesity: It turns out that cortisol can strongly influence what you eat. One of the latest studies found that the kind of “daily hassles” Todd B. dealt with will actually stimulate your desire for snack foods—and pack on the pounds. I doubt all those “on-the-go” meals were healthy.
I told Todd he needed to set aside more time to relax, then I suggested a simple, easy breathing exercise that would help clear his mind and calm him down.
Here’s the technique that you can use:
Set aside ten to fifteen minutes a day. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and let your awareness settle on the movement of your breath. Follow the in-breath and out-breath, perhaps by saying “breathing in, breathing out” quietly to yourself. Sit upright, with spine straightened and chin tucked in, while you calmly observe your breath.
That’s it. Try to do this practice every day. It helps to lower blood pressure, slow down your thoughts, and refresh body and mind.
If you’d like to learn more about how to “de-stress,” I’ll be hosting a teleseminar on July 24th at 8 pm with special guest Dr. Alex Loyd of The Healing Codes, an innovative company dedicated to helping you repair your body. Please join me. All you have to do is CLICK HERE to sign up.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1 Yilmaz et al. “Increased Levels of Nitric Oxide, Cortisol and Adrenomedullin in Patients with Chronic Schizophrenia.” 2007. Medical Principles and Practice. 16(2):137-141.
2 Wingenfeld et al. European Psychiatry. “Overnight urinary cortisol release in women with borderline personality disorder depends on comorbid PTSD and depressive psychopathology.” 2007. 22(5):309-312.
3 Holt et al. “Cortisol clearance and associations with insulin sensitivity, body fat and fatty liver in middle-aged men.” 2007. Diabetologia. 50(5):1024-1032.
4 Newman et ak, “Daily hassles and eating behaviour: The role of cortisol reactivity status.” Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007. 32(2):125-132