If we all understood stress better or paid attention to its effects on our bodies, we would live healthier lives. Stress is our body’s response to challenges. This response is both mental and physical. It’s an evolutionary mechanism, tied to our ancestors’ cavemen days when they were forced to fight or fly from dangers like lions in the wild.
These days for many of us, regular stress comes from school or work. Or it comes from a major life transition or a traumatic event. Stress can be small or major. But if we don’t try to manage these stresses, they can build up over time and cause anything from heart disease to dementia.
The good news is, it’s not difficult to manage stress and this is where USANA Vitamin Products can help alongside a healthy diet, proper sleep, exercise, and recreation are the expert recommendations.
But what about the stress that still seeps in through the cracks? That’s where stress supplements like USANA Stress Relief mood-support supplements come in. Herbal formulations like this are designed to help regulate mild stress daily. The supplement, to be taken twice daily, contains:
- Lemon balm
These are three “adaptogens”, or substances that support healthy stress-adaptation.
Saffron is known for its benefits against oxidative stress. It’s due to the presence of the carotenoid crocin that supports a balance of important neurotransmitters and supports feelings of calmness.
The citrusy lemon balm is a pleasant-smelling member of the mint family. Ancient tradition in the Middle East and Europe has used lemon balm for stress relief and a healthy mood. Recent studies have found the rosmarinic acid in lemon balm has positive effects on mood and cognitive function.
The Indian Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha is one of the core herbs of the supplement. This “Indian ginseng displays strong antioxidant activity while also supporting healthy levels of cortisol and some important neurotransmitters.
To understand how these adaptogens work, it helps to understand exactly what’s going on in your body when you’re stressed.
The effects of chronic and long-term stress
In the short term, stress looks like this: a faster heartbeat, quicker breaths, tight muscles, a rise in blood pressure. That’s the body telling us we’ve got to act, to protect ourselves or adapt.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the different parts of the body with stress.
Musculoskeletal stress: Muscles tense up as a reflex in response to stress. When the stress passes, the muscles relax. Such chronic muscle tensing around the neck and shoulders leads to things like tension-type headaches and migraines.
Respiratory stress: Stress narrows the airway between the nose and lungs. It makes us breathe faster, so the body has to do extra work to supply oxygen to cells and remove carbon dioxide. For people with asthma or COPD, acute stress can bring on hyperventilation and panic attacks, and asthma attacks. Working out relaxation techniques and breathing techniques with a psychologist can help in these cases.
Cardiovascular stress: Short-term acute stress speeds up heart rate and stronger heart muscle contractions. Stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline are the messengers for these effects. The blood vessels that carry blood to the large muscles and the heart dilate and blood pressure goes up. When the stress passes, the body returns to its normal state. With constant stress, elevated blood pressure and stress hormones harm the body. This can lead to hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. Chronic stress can also lead to inflammation in the circulatory system, which in the long term leads to heart attacks.
How someone responds to stress also affects their cholesterol levels.
In premenopausal women, the presence of estrogen helps the body handle stress better. The lack of the hormone in postmenopausal women puts them at greater risk for heart disease.
Endocrine stress: When the body perceives a situation to be uncontrollable, threatening, or challenging, the brain sets off a series of events centering around the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal glands. This system releases the steroid hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol mobilizes fatty acids from the liver and glucose to release more fuel for energy to deal with the upcoming challenge.
In the long term, chronic stress can mess up the communication between the HPA glands and the immune system, leading to metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, chronic fatigue, immune disorders, and depression
Gastrointestinal stress: The gut has millions of neurons that communicate with the brain. Stress affects this communication, and causes bloating, pain, and other annoyances that affect mood. Any changes in the gut bacteria also affect emotions.
Stress also plays havoc with appetite. Chronic stress can trigger or aggravate eating disorders. It can weaken the intestinal barrier that protects the body from gut bacteria. It can impair the proper absorption of nutrients.
Nervous system: When the body is stressed, a part of the nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) signals the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones. When stress passes, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) kicks in and brings the body back to its unstress state. Together, the SNS and PNS interact with the immune system, which can also have a role in stress reactions. Chronic stress over a long period continues to trigger stress responses and wears the body out.
Since the nervous system influences reproductive systems and sexual desire, chronic stress can throw these systems out of whack as well. They can increase vulnerabilities to diseases of the reproductive system and cause impotence.
A key hormone that’s released when you’re stressed – cortisol – is also linked with memory problems. Stress has been linked with anxiety and depression, which could together increase the risks of dementia.
How supplements can help with stress
It may be clear by now that the effects of stress in the body are complex and all-pervasive. Managing emotional reactions is one aspect of stress management. But because the gut is linked to moods and stress, supplements can be another way to help.
The herbs in USANA Stress Relief mood supplement work in complex ways at the molecular level to support feelings of calmness. Saffron, for example, has a positive effect on cellular immunity and humoral immunity which is nothing but immunity of the body fluids.
Similarly working at the molecular level, Ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels and control stress responses in chronically-stressed adults.
Along with exercise, enough sleep, a balanced diet, and strong social support, effective supplements like USANA Vitamin Products can help support a balanced mood and tackle what life tends to throw at you.