In the next 30 days I will be publishing the findings of my 16 month journey on understanding the effects that stress had on my system personally. After I lost weight, I dove head into blood work to understand the variables that were at work. This week Jason dives right into the number one stress hormone, Cortisol. He covers the effects, drivers and importance of understanding what this hormone does and the effects it has on us all – specific to understanding our bodies.
Welcome to part 2 of our 3 part series from stress and body professional, Mr. Jason Moore. His works have been featured on ABC, CNN, NBC, FOX CBS News and the Wall Street Journal.
Kolby I The Healthy Primate
Stress Reaction and What is Really Happening to Your Body
A distinction I originally got from Vegan Ironman Triathlete and author of Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness, Brendan Brazier, is that any form of stress you have in your life — whether emotional, psychological, or phsyical (such as the “mycotoxic oxidative stress” that comes from acidic foods and drinks and recirculating metabolic waste, stress that comes from your marriage, family, and relationships, any work or environmental stress, and even so called “good stress”, like exercise) — always leads to higher cortisol levels (“the stress hormone”).
This “stress reaction” in the form of “spikes” in cortisol, initially gives you energy (historically, stress was a signal for fast action that protected us from danger), but it’s NOT clean or lasting energy.
To make matters worse, these cortisol spikes also shut down the proper functioning of digestion and elimination, make it difficult to enter into delta or REM sleep (which is the deep rejuvenative phase of sleep and the only time your body rebuilds and repairs itself), and cause you to wake up feeling un-rested, which leads to cravings for energy from “stimulation” (coffee, refined sugar, refined starch, and so on) in order to fire off the adrenal glands and boost energy in the short term.
Additionally, there are other hormones that get activated and go up when you’re tired that literally give you the illusion that you’re hungry, and this also leads to even more cravings for sugary, starchy, and stimulant based foods. Overindulging in “stimulants” then leads to even more stress and even higher levels of cortisol and other hormones putting you into a vicious downward spiral.
Brendan Brazier found through his own research and experience that “when you’re well nourished and lower stress, cortisol levels come down naturally and, in the long run, you need less sleep, gain more energy, and can experience faster recovery.” The more tired you get, the worse you sleep, especially when there’s a lot of “physical stress” — then people try to add more sleep which is “treating a symptom” rather than the cause.
Eating better and getting enough nutrients, however, goes right to eliminating the cause of this breakdown.
He also points out, that having high levels of physical and/or psychological stress, “burned out” adrenal glands, and chronically elevated cortisol, can cause other problems in regard to weight loss and muscle gain — when cortisol is high, you cannot build muscle and lose body fat.
This might cause you to cut back on how much you eat (focusing on reducing calories) and to over exercise.
However, he also distinguished that “when you cut back how much you eat, you then get less nutrients which your body needs to rejuvenate, repair, and function — and with less nutrition the body holds fat in response and weight gain occurs, and usually at a faster pace.”
Exercise is both “psychologically stress relieving” (balances volatile energy and emotions) and “physiologically stress inducing” (breaking down muscle tissue that needs to be repaired).
Therefore, if you have high stress, poor nutrition, and high cortisol levels, you may need to transform your diet first by focusing on “high net gain” nutrition (live alkaline green juices and smoothies anyone?) and keep away from any high intensity exercise, focusing instead on “passive” exercise (like deep breathing and infrared sauna) and “light” aerobic exercise (like walking or rebounding), until you get stress levels and cortisol down and back into balance.
At the same time, whatever goes in must be either assimilated or eliminated, so you have to focus on the health and fitness of your digestion and elimination or nothing else will matter.
Another key distinction about weight gain is that the body puts on fat in response to the over-acidification of the blood by creating fat cells to be used like parking lots for acidity that must be moved out of the blood to maintain a normal pH. Poor digestion and poor elimination equals more acidity and more acidity equals the more fat.
This also means that, by improving digestion and elimination and alkalizing the body, you can reduce stress, balance hormones, improve sleep, have healthier skin (your largest eliminative organ), and much more easily drop weight in a healthy way while increasing energy and resources at the same time.
If zero energy equals no physical life, then the more energy you have the more health and vitality you have; therefore, anything that takes away from you bodies energy is disease producing, anything that contributes to your enegy is health and vitality promoting.
Digestion happens to use more energy than any other body process, even when it is functioning normally, therefore it’s critical to eat foods that are easy to digest and provide “high net gains” – meaning foods that make more energy and nutrient deposits than withdrawals.
What are easy to digest, high-net-gain foods? Is it simply organic and whole food? Or is it more than that?
Unfortunately, just because something is labeled organic or considered “whole food” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best for you, or even good for you — I often tell people that it is possible to kill yourself in the health food store just as fast as in the convenience store.
The kinds of foods that make the biggest difference when you eat them in the majority of your diet — the ones that support proper digestion and elimination, balance biochemistry, and provide resources for building healthy blood (more on that in moment) — are live, alkaline, water-rich, fiber-rich, healthy-fat-rich, and quality-plant-protein-rich and that are also organic and whole.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to go extreme and become a total vegetarian, vegan, or raw (which too often leads to excessive consumption of starch and sugar which is just as destructive). However, it does mean that you need to learn how to incorporate delicious, gourmet, alkaline, vegan, raw plant based foods into your existing diet — but ONLY if you want to stay alive and thrive long term.
Thank you for reading part 2 of our 3 part series. We would love to hear your experience, thoughts or simply open questions regarding the subject.
Kolby I The Healthy Primate