Our health is affected by the different types of stress in our lives but with chiropractic adjustments, healthy eating and exercise we can lower stress and feel better.
What effects does stress have on an individual’s body?
Dr. Dale Smith: Liz, that’s a fantastic question. I think it’s really important that our listeners know what kind of stress actually does affect our health. There’s three kinds of stress. There’s chemical, physical, and emotional stresses. Now, physical stress is anything that we actually do to our body, for example, an automobile accident, a fall, sports injuries, even sitting at a computer eight hours a day, five days a week. People have been doing this for years at a time, definitely a big physical stress on the body. Chemical stress is anything that you actually put inside your body like the processed foods that we eat that have tons of added chemicals, artificial sweeteners, prescription and over-the-counter medications, smoking and drinking, even the air that we breathe. Emotional stress, that’s job, family, and money. We all have that don’t we, Liz?
Dr. Dale Smith: Some of these stresses we do have control over, and some stresses we don’t have control over. I mean we can control what we put in our mouths. We can control how we drive our own vehicle, but we can’t control somebody running into us. We can’t control some of the air that we breathe, and most of us are going to go out and eat. We can’t control what’s in the food when we eat out. When we have all these stresses that affect our body, our bodies always respond the same way no matter whether it’s a physical, whether it’s a chemical, or an emotional stress. What happens is our fight or flight mechanism will kick in when we’re under stress. Have you ever heard of that mechanism, Liz?
RC: I have, yes.
Dr. Dale Smith: That is our life-saving mechanism. It’s there to get us out of danger and save our lives, and when that mechanism kicks in, certain stress hormones start to increase, like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.
How is a person’s overall health affected by stress?
Dr. Dale Smith: Liz, I like to use an analogy when I explain this. Let’s say that we were in a room with the doors shut and the windows locked and then the room catches on fire, you think that’s going to be stressful for us?
RC: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Dale Smith: Yeah, I think we’ll all be stressed out. What that does to our bodies, it kicks in our fight or flight mechanism so that we can save our lives. Our body … We have two choices. We can either fight the fire, or we can run away from the fire. What happens is when we have those increased hormones, the cortisol, the adrenaline, the norepinephrine, that changes some parts of our body. For example, our blood pressure’s going to go up, and the reason that does is because we need the blood to our extremities, our legs and our arms, so that we can either fight the fire or run away from it. Our blood glucose will go up because we need that for the energy to fight or run. The cholesterol levels go up because cholesterol is there for wound healing, so if we injure ourselves while we’re fighting the fire, running from it, we need to heal quickly, but, our immune system, that goes down because it’s not so important to fight a cold or the flu while we’re trying to save our lives is it, Liz?
RC: Right, no.
Dr. Dale Smith: Our bodies aren’t meant to fight a fire 24/7, 365 days a year. When you’re doing that every day, day in and day out, what we know from research is 90% of all chronic diseases come from stress and lifestyle, things such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
What are some ways chiropractic care can help alleviate the effects of stress on the body?
Dr. Dale Smith: As you know, Liz, our brain, it sends all the messages down our spinal cord out 31 pairs of spinal nerves, to every cell, tissue, organ in our body. That’s to keep us alive. When our body is under any of those stresses, the physical, the chemical, or the emotional stress, what happens is our spine will lock up. When that happens, it chokes off the life to the body, so if that nerve is say going up your neck to your head, that could potentially cause you to have headaches. It can affect your blood pressure. If that nerve is going to your pancreas, it can affect you and cause diabetes. If that nerve is also going down into your leg, it can cause that sciatic pain that people get. What we do as chiropractors is we locate where your spine is being locked up. We unlock the spine with a chiropractic adjustment to allow the life of the body to be restored and to allow your body to heal naturally. Does that make sense, Liz?
RC: Yes, definitely.
Can proper diet and nutrition, along with the right supplements, help our bodies better handle stress?
Dr. Carol Wright-Smith: Well, Liz, I’m going to take this question on. Most definitely it can. As mentioned, one form of stress is chemical. That’s everything we put into our bodies. If we can change the way we eat, reducing the foods that cause inflammation, which is a reaction to stress, then we can reduce our overall stress levels. Foods, such as sugars, grains like wheat, corn, and rye, and dairy, no, milk doesn’t really do a body good, increases that inflammation in our body. We recommend the paleo diet for our patients. A great book that explains the how, and most importantly, the why, is The Paleo Cardiologist by Dr. Jack Wolfson. He’s a cardiologist who got frustrated with his poor outcome with his patients using traditional, or western medicine. He breaks down the components of heart health, cholesterol, and why the paleo diet is reversing heart disease and diabetes, just to name a few.
Our bodies require certain elements. Supplements can provide these. We recommend Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and a whole food nutrient like chlorella or spirulina to help the body heal and detoxify and provide the proper building blocks to combat the effects of stress.
What role does exercise play in reducing stress and the effects of stress on our bodies?
Dr. Carol Wright-Smith: It most definitely can help in three specific ways. First of all, it pumps up your endorphin’s. Exercise causes the production of these feel-good neurotransmitters, also known as runner’s high. Just thirty minutes of walking daily can also produce this. It’s easy to do, and no gym is required. Secondly, it’s meditation in motion. During exercise, you’re often times focused on the activity or the movement that you’re doing or the game that you’re playing, and you forget about the daily stress that you just had. With regular exercise activities, you can begin to reduce tension, and you find that you can focus better on single tasks. It increases your energy and productivity, also allowing you to be more calm and clear-headed. Finally, exercise helps with your attitude. Regular exercise increases self-confidence, how we look and feel. Who doesn’t want to fit into their skinny jeans again? It relaxes you and can decrease symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise not only decreases stresses, but it increases your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep allows you to wake up more refreshed, put your feet on the ground, and attack the day with confidence.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Carol-Wright Smith or Dr. Dale Smith, visit www.smithchiropracticcordova.com or call (901) 794-0876 to schedule an appointment.