Today, stress kills millions of people worldwide. In terms of numbers as well as percentage, stress is likely the biggest killer of humans in our times. The deaths of two beloved Indian politicians in August, only serves as a reminder to us to stop overtaxing ourselves.
Mental or physical stress causes release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes proteins to form sugar for immediate use by the body. It also causes decreased response of body tissues to the sugar burning effects of insulin. In other words, it uses up your proteins to form carbohydrates.
The net result of continued stress is decreased protein levels
The lower availability of proteins
- Decreases amount of protein based immunoglobulins to counter infections,
- Lowers the levels of protein based enzymes to scavenge and remove harmful free radicals.
Additionally, these effects decrease the ability of insulin to act in the way it is supposed to. Insulin is the only hormone in the body causing PRODUCTION of proteins. Disruption in its function also causes impairment in glucose metabolism and diabetes
While the immediate high production of sugar helps the person to function at high capacity, cortisols are stress hormones. Continued release causes the body to wear down and age faster. The over all effect of long term unremitted stress is to
- cause faster aging,
- lower your immunity and
- lead to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity
Remember, the key here is chronic and unremitting. One stressful day in a month is probably not the same as having 20 of 30 stressful days.
Unfortunately, stress is part & parcel of modern life. Getting rid of stress is not an option for most of us. The solution lies in training the body to not be a victim of stressful situations. The only way to do that is to discipline BOTH the mind and the body. The solution therefore, is as difficult to implement as it is simple to preach.
A simple form of combined mind-body training is Yoga done with pranayam & meditation. Tai chi and other eastern disciplines also help counter stress if practiced along with meditation & breath exercises.