• Mon - Sat at 10:00AM to 6:00PM

  • 110 N. IH35, Suite #295, Round Rock, Texas 78681

  • 512-310-8880

Is Your Phone Causing You Adrenal Stress?

I just watched an interesting 60 Minutes Show named Brain Hacking by correspondent Anderson Cooper. The impact of our modern day high tech gadgets on human behavioral patterns and health is discussed. Allow me share some personal takeaways from the wellness perspective.

I recently watched an interesting 60 Minutes segment called Brain Hacking by correspondent Anderson Cooper. The impact of our modern day high tech gadgets on human behavioral patterns and health is discussed. Allow me share some personal takeaways from the wellness perspective.

  • The giant high tech companies that we all know (and perhaps love), which I will not name here (but you know who they are), have their software engineers design their systems to capture users habits and advertise and direct you to form habits that they desire you to have. This claim was made by Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager.
  • Psychologist Rosen and his team at California State University Dominguez Hills have found that when people spend time away from their phones, their brain signals the adrenal gland to produce bursts of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers a fight-or-flee response to danger. While our primitive ancestors would be using it for primarily survival purpose, you and I are being regularly bombarded by cortisol in our body due to anxiety created by the small modern day gadget related events.
  • Anderson Cooper visited the California State University and was hooked up to their system to monitor for his brain waves and cortisol hormone response. The monitor clearly showed a small amount of cortisol injection into the blood system by the adrenal gland every time his phone rang and/or he gave thought to who/what might the incoming message be.
  • Some experts believe generally speaking we go through this level of anxiety every 15 minutes or so while away from the gadgets. Thus explaining most of us check and recheck our mobile devices so very frequently throughout the day to calm our nerves.
  • Cooper and the 60 Minutes team found that teens are among the most susceptible to phone anxiety. “The early science suggests that heavy users of technology, of smartphones, for example, become very anxious when they’re not using the technology,” says 60 Minutes producer Guy Campanile in the video above. “Teenagers already are the most anxious people you’re ever going to meet, so when you toss into that mix a device that, when they’re not using, makes them anxious, it just ratchets everything up three or four levels.”

Is it a wonder why there are more and more of us having anxiety attacks (some small and some not so small)? In my previous blogs dedicated to stress, I discussed about how low-level but frequent occurrence of stress events can affect our cortisol levels and insulin production. The cortisol and adrenaline stress hormones play an important role in preparing us to fight-or-flight from an adverse event at the expense of creating a temporary imbalance in our body’s mineral (salt), insulin (sugar), and hormone (sex) levels. If we gave it a time, our body has ways to bring back to balance these important areas of our health. However, the problem is that before the balance is restored, another stimulating event takes place and triggering another burst of adrenaline/cortisol into our system.

What are you and I to do when these small stress events are a part of our “norm” lifestyle? I suggested several ways in the following blogs that you are welcome to read on further:

  1. Eat Healthy – http://www.healthyindeed.com/top-5-anti-stress-foods/
  2. Supplement to help to cope with stress – http://www.healthyindeed.com/8-amazing-stress-relief-natural-supplements/
  3. Learn and keep healthy anxiety-free habits – http://www.healthyindeed.com/10-habits-of-anxiety-free-people/
  4. Consider that cell phone of yours as a nerve-stimulating device, set a time every day to put aside that mobile device and walkaway for at least 1 to 2 hours or longer.
  5. Create habits and lifestyle to help you diminish any unnecessary stressful events of life no matter how small they are. That is, keep your life simple and easy!

To your health and wellness….

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hooked-on-phones/

Tags:
Categories:

The Stress-Salt-Sugar-Sex Connection

We have discussed so far about how the body handles stress and the strong connection between stress, adrenal hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine, and cortisol) and insulin interaction as we manage stress. Today, I am going a step further as we look at adrenal hormones interactions with DHEA and our sex hormones.

We have discussed so far about how the body handles stress and the strong connection between stress, adrenal hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine, and cortisol) and insulin interaction as we manage stress. Today, I am going a step further as we look at adrenal hormones interactions with DHEA and our sex hormones.

Dehydioepiandrosterone, in short DHEA, is connected with the adrenal hormones in more ways than one. First, DHEA is a natural form of steroid produced in the adrenal gland itself (as well as in gonads, ovaries and brain). Secondly, cortisol and all male and female hormones are related to DHEA and cholesterol as shown in the following metabolic pathway chart.

 

The simplest way to understand the above chart is to start looking at the outcome (bottom item) of the 3 columns presented. The left-hand column ultimately regulates our body’s salt content (mineralocorticoid), the center column regulates sugar (glucocorticoid) and the right hand column manages our sex functions (androgen and estrogens). As one can see, these 3 major areas of our bodily function are closely related and highly interdependent on one another and to our adrenal gland.

A case in point, adrenal fatigue can affect the amount of DHEA secreted in the adrenals, reducing the body’s ability to metabolize sex hormones and produce normal sex hormone levels. Conversely, reduced progesterone production in the ovaries can diminish the amount of cortisol and adrenaline manufactured in the adrenal glands. As shown below, the male testosterone has a inverse relationship with stress hormone cortisol.

Image result for stress hormone connectionsIs it still surprising to you that we may experience a wide-range of possible ill-effects related to stress? For example, diabetes (sugar), hypoglycemia (sugar), hyperglycemia (sugar), kidney dis-functions (salt/mineral process), heart diseases (salt/mineral imbalance), joint inflammation and muscle atrophy (cortisol triggered gluconeogenesis effect), brain and mental illnesses (neurotransmitter deficiencies), male and female reproductive functions (controlled by several hormones produced at the adrenal glands), and many other areas are all inter-related to one another in our body’s complex metabolism system.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not saying that these serious health concerns are all and only caused by stress. That would be wrong! Quite contrary, each and every one of these health challenges may very well have their own dominant factors that have not been described here. However, what I am saying is that the stress factor should not be easily set aside. You and I should examine our bio-physical and non-bio-physical aspects of who we are into account as we endeavor on this holistic wellness journey of our lives. Stress is one of those we should not ignore!

As described in our earlier blogs on this subject, high level of cortisol production is secreted from the adrenal glands into our blood stream to prepare our body for an on-going stressful event. This triggers a myriad of sequences of action to better prepare us for the fight or flee emergency mode. When the crisis is over, by means of para-sympathetic autonomic nervous system’s actions, it returns our body back to the normal restful and relaxed mode of operation. However, in modern day living, we experience too frequently low- to mid-level of stress in a on-going basis, our adrenal gland never quite reaches a “fully restful” state. As a result, these glands can be easily exhausted. When that happens, the adrenal glands can no longer sustain the appropriate response required for a given stress. The adrenal fatigue sets in and all of the hormone levels become  sub-optimal at best.

Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include pronounced and constant fatigueness, flagging motivation, depressed mood, change in appetite, and overall weakness.

From the charts shown here, the natural progesterone and pregnenolone may be explored as one of the methods of helping your body to balancing the cortisol and sex hormones. In short, natural and bio-identical progesterone, for example, may indirectly aid in regulating our body’s salt, sugar, and both male and female sex functions.

I am not going to make this any more complicated than it can be. I believe we have established a high level understanding about the connection between stress, adrenaline, cortisol, insulin, and hormones. If one suffers any of the symptoms related to any of the above areas, it would be prudent to visit a medical professional who is anand ask for evaluation in all of these inter-dependent area for a better understanding of the root cause and hopefully help us to find appropriate holistic solutions.

Speaking of solutions, that’s what we are going to dedicate the next few blogs on. Stay tuned….

 

Resources:

“The Miracle of Bio-Identical Hormones,” by Michael E. Platt, M.D.

“Beyond Fight or Flight,” by Robert M. Sargis, MD, PhD

http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/cortisol

“Adrenaline Dominance – A Revolutional Approach to Wellness,” by Michael E. Platt, MD

Tags:
Categories:

The Stress-Cortisol-Insulin Connection

In summary, we learned that our body is well-equipped to handle stress through different channels as described here but it is designed to deal with it on a short and rare unexpected conditions. Not as the way modern day urban living dictates, a continuous cyclical set of low- to mid-range stresses one after another 24X7. The long term stressful lifestyle can and will lead to strenuous adrenaline-insulin-hormone imbalances with very undesirable health consequences.

To help us handle stress, adrenaline affects a variety of different parts of our body function. For example, it functions as a hormone (a well known fact) as described in our last blog, and as a neurotransmitter in the brain (not so well known). Our body produces adrenaline in large quantity in possible two scenarios – under physical stress or mental/emotional stress. That is why stress can be real or perceived (not real). But in effect, both of them causes the same effect of adrenaline release in our body.

Besides adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones, there is yet another hormone secreted by the adrenal gland (albeit by its external cortex section) that is also designed for helping us to deal with stress. Its name is cortisol. Unlike adrenaline which is activated directly by the instant electrical communication through the neurons, cortisol is activated biochemically by the pituitary gland which in turn is activated biochemically by the hypothalamus gland. Our body have cortisol receptors in just about every cell. As a result, cortisol has a wide range of impact when we go under stress.

The mechanism responsible for triggering cortisol release when our body determines there is insufficient amount of glucose in our blood to sustain brain functions (glucose is our brain’s main source of energy). The brain under the duress of lack of glucose, will call on the body to produce sugar from stored protein in our muscles through a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis, a process mediated by cortisol. It’s been stipulated that cortisol is also involved in the glycogenolysis process, which converts glycogen stored in the liver into sugar.

Our brain uses more sugar than any other tissue in our body. When sugar level falls, our brain “falls to sleep”. We get shaky, fainty, and bitchy – pardon my French (just trying to get the sentiment across. Besides they rhyme). Medically this is called hypoglycemia. Clearly it is a stressful situation for our body. From survival point, our body is designed to do everything and anything to supply the brain with proper amount of fuel. Cortisol and adrenaline hormones are its agent to initiate the fastest action to tap into the reserves to accomplishing that goal.

The most likely thing we do when we reach a low glycemic level in our blood is to reach for the high-sugar high-calorie foods. When that becomes our every mid-afternoon habit, we have created a craving event that will stimulate the production of insulin to send the glucose from our blood stream into muscle and fat cells on a regular basis. If we do not immediately utilized that energy surge by means of exercise or a burn off event, we build up fatty tissues in the belly area as our new energy storage units. And gain weight!

The excess amount of insulin needed to handle the excess sugar can cause a periodic low sugar level in the blood as well. Which triggers our stress hormones to start it up again to convert more sugar from the protein and other sources. Rounds and rounds of this can go on throughout the day causing a health condition dubbed syndrome X or metabolic syndrome. The interplay between the adrenaline/cortisol and sugar/insulin is a key factor in diabetes, syndrome X, hypertension, unexplained weight gain, hyperglycemia, and a whole array of other modern day illnesses.

But now, we have more than one hormone acting in parallel of each other to bring about the stress-adrenaline/cortisol-sugar-insulin-adrenaline/cortisol cascade cycles. This can obviously not be good for us on a daily and on-going basis. Despite of its desirable anti-inflammatory effects, excessive amount of cortisol over a long time can cause calcification of coronary arteries, plaques in carotid arteries, thyroid dysfunction, weight gain, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, mood swings, increased thirst and frequent urination to name a few.

In summary, we learned that our body is well-equipped to handle stress through different channels as described here but it is designed to deal with it on a short and rare unexpected conditions. Not as the way modern day urban living dictates, a continuous cyclical set of mid-range stresses one after another 24X7. The long term stressful lifestyle can and will lead to strenuous adrenaline-insulin-hormone imbalances with very undesirable health consequences.

We will dig into the hormone connection to stress and sugar imbalances specifically in our next blog.

Don’t mean to end this blog on such a negative note, but I ran out of space. In the next few blogs, let’s take a look at what actions can we take to mitigate our body and mind to handling the inevitable stress (however big or small) that bombards us every day.

 

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11724664

“Beyond Fight or Flight,” by Robert M. Sargis, MD, PhD

http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/cortisol

“Adrenaline Dominance – A Revolutional Approach to Wellness,” by Michael E. Platt, MD

 

Tags:
Categories:

Stress

In this blog I will share some basic but intricate ways how our body handles stress.

I believe all of us have seen the “KEEP CALM” images somewhere. Is this a sign of time? Are we all so stressed that we need to constantly remind ourselves to “KEEP CALM”?

Kidding aside, I have observed, among my clients at our wellness center, a rather high percentage of them are coming for stress relief. Some of the time, the manifestation of their stress is expressed in ways far more complex and out of control than you might think. So, I have decided to explore into the subject of stress a little further and share some of my learning in a series of blogs for the next few weeks. Interested in joining me on this journey?

Coincidentally enough, we are right in the middle of the tax season. So, take a brief brake from that stress and read over the blogs to better understand about stress and how to address them.

In this blog I will share about basic but intricate ways how our body handles stress.

Just about everyone knows that we deal with stress by production of adrenaline from the inner adrenal medulla. But few people understand the implication of adrenaline on:

  • Hyperactivity, anxiety, PTSD, depression (nervous system)
  • Appetite control, bowel issues (digestive system)
  • Blood pressure (circulatory system)
  • Sugar balancing, insulin production, energy level (metabolic system)
  • Hormone imbalance and its reproductive and mood implications

Upon reception of a stressful signal, our body reacts to it using the electrical impulses through the nervous system as its first line of communication. Unlike other glandular system organs, the adrenal gland’s inner medulla has a direct line to our brain which acknowledges and processes decision on what needs to be done. This is obviously good because you sure don’t want to leave your hand on the hot stove even for a second long. We need to have a local instantaneous response to pull our hand off that hot spot to minimize damage.

What happens anatomically after that instance of stress is a thing to behold. In concert with your sympathetic autonomic nervous system, the inner adrenal medulla produces adrenaline (or epinephrine) and noradrenaline (or norepinephrine), two key hormones responsible for our reactions to stress. Since both the adrenaline and noradrenaline are produced in our adrenal gland and for the same purpose of getting our body ready for stress, we can call them collectively as our “survival hormones”, adrenaline. Adrenaline triggers the fight-or-flee response for immediate physical action. Adrenaline stimulates glucose release from stored-sources into the blood stream and directs this sugar-rich blood to the muscles so that you can fight harder and flee faster. Your heart rate and breathing pattern begin to accelerate to maximize its ability to distribute this sugar-rich blood to where it’s needed, such as the brain for higher alertness and focus. You pupil dilates to improve vision. The image shown below depicts these effects.

Adrenaline also dilates the blood vessels to where it is needed and constricts the blood vessels to organs not needed. Case in point, the digestive system. Ever been in a stressful period, when you don’t feel hungry long past your regular meal time? It’s your body’s way of keeping you fighting or fleeing using your reserved energy. And once the crisis is over, your appetite returns back to normal. Smart, isn’t it?

In nature, the fight-or-flee response is designed to last but for a short period of time and then should come to a quick end once the crisis is over. Our adrenaline level likewise is designed to resume to a normal dormant level immediately once the crisis is done with. Our parasympathetic system kicks in and has proper channels to reduce the adrenaline level, slowing down of the heart rate and lung performance, and increase blood flow to the digestive organs. It’s our restoring mechanism to help us to get back to our restful state as shown in the diagram. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems normally function in opposition of each other, such that the sympathetic system prepares the body in response to stress (like the accelerator pedal on a car) and the parasympathetic plays its part by slowing that reaction and restore the body back to its homeostasis after the initial reaction (like the brake on a car).

In modern day urban living, the stresses we face every day are typically not few and far between. We may face less life-threatening dangers like the old-days but we face continuous low- to mid-range level stressors all day long in a way that as human beings we have not experienced historically. Our daily sources of stressor can come from stress experienced in traffic, at work, at school, deadlines, demands, expectations, financial challenges, family conflicts, insufficient sleep, continuous bombardment of noises, job transition, loss of a loved one, social engagements, so on and so forth…

As a result, we are in a constant state of adrenaline high. We learn to cope with it from day to day. In fact, some of us are so used to that “high”, we don’t know what to do when we are off the crisis mode. Many of us seek for that high by means of stimulating events and/or stimulant in-take (e.g. coffee, high energy drinks and other forms of stimulants) to artificially trigger the adrenaline into action. In the next blog, we will look at the implications of the consistent high level of adrenaline have on our body. I will get into the stress-adrenaline-insulin connection that is very prevalent in our society today. Perhaps you may be experiencing now!

Until then, Keep Calm and Carry On!

Tags:
Categories: