Stress is one of the most avid killers of our days, especially in recent years where an extraneous component such as Covid and conflicts very close to our borders has been added to the daily stress due to everyday life. The action of stress on the body and in particular on the hormonal axis brain - reproductive organs is very powerful, and capable of altering the menstrual cycle by phase-shifting the hormones and inducing an emotional bodily change in a short time. Let's understand together what stress is and how to act on a nutritional and integrative level to combat it.
How does stress work?
What consequences does stress have on our body?
Stress and the menstrual cycle
What are the possible remedies for stress: nutrition and supplementation
Which supplement to choose against stress?
HOW DOES STRESS WORK?
The term was first introduced by the biologist Walter Bradford Cannon back in 1935. By definition, stress is nothing more than a reaction that occurs organically, when a person perceives an imbalance between external or mental stresses and his resources. energetic. Stress is necessary because it triggers an adaptation reaction, the purpose of which is to restore a new internal balance, called homeostasis, which it allows us to adapt and survive the changing environment. Stress can obviously trigger adaptation reactions at various levels:
- therefore hormonal endocrine especially linked to the menstrual cycle;
- humoral ie on the central nervous system which has repercussions on mood and behavior;
- organic consequently both on the reproductive organs and on the body fat;
- cell causing inflammation and compromising the energy of the cells.
WHAT CONSEQUENCES DOES STRESS HAVE ON OUR BODY?
There is a "positive" stress, for example: if you feel threatened in an alley at night the reaction to stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, these hormones activate the release of mental and muscular energies allowing you to escape. A good scare, but after a few minutes everything returns as before.
Another type of stress is the chronic one, which we could define as "bad", created by the constant alarm of threats that are not really real. This type of state activates the release of cortisol, a hormone that degrades muscle and causes fat to accumulate, and also inhibits the immune system which is no longer able to protect us. Cortisol also disrupts the balance of menstrual hormones - estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH - resulting in more painful periods and unbalanced menstrual cycles.
So in summary, chronic low-grade stress is our real enemy that we must avoid because it can cause:
- hormonal alterations with repercussions on the menstrual cycle;
- alterations of our prefrontal cortex with changes in mood and motivation;
- changes in body composition with increased visceral fat;
- decreased muscle mass and decreased physical energy.
STRESS AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
This is perhaps the point that interests us the most, namely can chronic stress alter the menstrual cycle? Unfortunately, the answer is YES. In general, the consequences of stress on the cycle can affect: the length of the cycle and its regularity up to one real interruption . During chronic stress certain areas of the brain, the hypothalamus, release the hormone CRH which in turn triggers a cascade of high levels of cortisol in the blood, and here is the disaster. This hormone is able to reduce the levels of another hypothalamic hormone: the GnRH that commands the reproductive hormone system, and here is the hormonal connection. The more stressed we are, the more we produce cortisol and less GnRH which impairs the intake of FHS and LH which regulate the menstrual cycle. So according to which phase of the month the stress meets the menstrual cycle there will be an alteration that will have repercussions on the person's life, his health and his expectations. Obviously these symptoms are temporary so by eliminating the source of stress the balance is restored, but we must be well aware of when we are subject to stress, to react at the right time and prevent it from becoming chronic.
WHICH ARE THE POSSIBLE REMEDIES FOR STRESS: NUTRITION AND INTEGRATION
And now after understanding how stress affects our metabolism and our menstrual cycle, let's see how to manage and counteract it. We will focus on the nutritional and supplementary part, but it is important to know that there are also mindfulness and breathing methods that are able to act in a very profound way on stress.
To reduce stress we must immediately act on cortisol levels, it is sometimes difficult to prevent the stressful external reaction it attacks us unconsciously. Let's think for example of the simple look at the news of the day, videos, images and data can immediately trigger a stress reaction. What can we do? The best thing is to choose foods that lower cortisol, and in general to choose an anti-inflammatory diet. Let's see how, with practical advice:
- eliminate red and processed meats, cheeses and predatory fish then swordfish and tuna;
- introduce plant foods rich in omega 3 such as: seeds, avocado, olive oil, salmon and eggs;
- introducing legumes to increase serotonin levels which calms the mind and allows us to better manage external stress;
- introduce cereals such as: millet, oats and barley rich in magnesium and potassium which allow a better transmission of the energy signals of the cells. If you feel strong and full of energy, you will be more likely to react better to stress;
the use of supplements and specific substances that help the body process cellular and organic information, reacting better and faster to stress and blocking those hormonal changes that are so damaging to the menstrual cycle.
WHICH SUPPLEMENT TO CHOOSE AGAINST STRESS?
Depending on our needs we have to choose one supplement over another, so it is important to know which substances can help us fight stress, here are some of them:
- red vine with its mostly antioxidant properties on the cardio-circulatory system, reduces inflammation and therefore allows a rapid transport of oxygen and the elimination of organic acids, which are formed during chronic stress.
- Rosa canina also acts on the capillary system but above all on oxidative stress also on the neurons of the brain. This plant is able to reduce the harmful free radicals, which are formed during oxidative stress, i.e. when oxygen is not used in the most efficient way. Think a little bit happens just when we are under stress because we don't breathe properly.
- pligonum C rich in resveratrol essential to reduce inflammation and fight cortisol levels, its main action is to trigger a reduction in the levels of Tnf alpha and IL6 which are the two inflammatory molecules par excellence.
- coenzyme Q10 is part of the oxygen transport chain and is able to help cells breathe better and therefore prevent them from going into stress.
As you can see we have many weapons at our disposal to combat stress, it is necessary to act promptly, it is not possible to have a stress-free life but what we can do is protect ourselves with proper nutrition and integration. To ensure that stress becomes a positive factor that improves us and not become victims of it.