Chronic Stress as a Clue: Part II
Prior to 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared stress the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century”. The ramifications of chronic stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion dollars annually, though that stat is a pretty cold way to look at stress… from a purely financial perspective. Numerous studies show that job stress is the leading cause of stress for American adults. Other triggers include finances, relationships, parenting, and trauma…. Oh, and let’s not forget simply living through 2020/2021.
Unpacking stress as a clue is like peeling back the layers of an onion. What actually happens to a body that is chronically stressed?
Initially, we may feel the effects of adrenaline and cortisol being released. The heart speeds up, digestion slows down, the blood supply shunts blood to major muscle groups, and fight or flight kicks in. In normal situations, the perceived threat eventually leaves and we relax and recover.
In a state of chronic stress, this scenario doesn’t happen the way it should, and some real problematic changes in the body occur.
The brain actually begins to decrease in both size and weight😳. Ultimately this affects both cognition and memory. The basal ganglia and the pre frontal cortex are especially affected by these changes. The basal ganglia is involved in the processing of information related to emotions, motivations, and movement, while the pre frontal cortex is responsible for “executive decision making”….. The ability to differentiate between conflicting thoughts, identifying good from bad, predictions of outcomes, expectations based on actions, and the ability to suppress urges. This area of the brain dictates our personality, goals and values. As you might imagine, over time, chronic stress plays a very real role in brain disorders like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and dystonia.
Unmitigated chronic stress affects the immune system by activating low grade inflammation🔥 throughout the body. It may take years to develop, but strong evidence suggests that low grade inflammation eventually triggers dis-eases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, colitis, IBS, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, lupus, MS, diabetes, cancer, and other autoimmune disorders.
Additionally, this stress affects the production of blood cells needed to effectively fight off illnesses.
Chronic stress also alters the activity of:
🔥The hypothalamus (libido, behavior, emotions, body temperature, weight, and sleep/wake cycle.
🔥The pituitary (which largely controls both the adrenals and thyroid)
🔥The adrenal glands (produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and how we respond to stress). Even a minimal amount of stress can activate the adrenal glands.
🔥Growth hormones (can be halted during severe stress)
Additionally, chronic stress can lead to malignancies, genetic instability (epigenetics… the role our environment plays in gene expression), and tumor growth by effectively decreasing the activity of the normal systems within the body that keeps aberrant (cancer) cells from growing.
Digestive disorders are also a common physical symptom of chronic stress, including changes in motility, increased intestinal permeability,and inflammation in the form of Crohns, ulcerative colitis, and IBS.
Chronic stress is no joke when it comes to its impact on health, and not a single person is immune to the effects of it. This is why it is incredibly important to have a plan of action to care for yourself and encourage others to do the same.
We are all built incredibly differently, and stress will ultimately expose the unique weakness that is within each one of us. This is why it is so very important that we know and understand our bodies well, so that we can support it in the manner that best serves us.
Sleep😴 is our body’s only true time of repair and recovery. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, make that a priority. If quality sleep is not happening, work on sleep hygiene and habits to improve your zzzzzz’s.
👉Stop screen time well before bed and keep electronics out of the bedroom (pineal gland disruption).
👉Get 10-20 minutes of full sunlight during the day.
👉Keep sleeping temperature at less than 70 degrees F.
👉Take an epsom salt bath before bed…. Add in Lavender, Frankincense, Peace and Calming, Cedarwood or Sandalwood to the salts.
👉Consider diffusing with any of the calming oils!
👉Exercise earlier in the day, and consider restorative yoga or meditation before bed.
👉Avoid artificial sweeteners (they can cause insomnia!)
👉Support a healthy night’s sleep with either YL’s Immupro chewable tablets or Sleep Essence capsules.
Next week I will cover some strategies for coping with chronic stress.
EYE CLUES PART II
Before diving into a deeper discussion of all the clues our eyes give us, I wanted to issue a call to action. ⏰Do you have an ophthalmologist (MD) or doctor of Optometry (OD) that you see annually? Remember that the application of knowledge is not only power… it is also where wisdom is born. As is the case with regular lab work (which we will discuss at some point!), having professional insight into the health of your sight organs 👀provides invaluable clues to help you manage the rest of your body, thereby perhaps avoiding consequences later in life. When you go to your appointments, do not be shy about asking questions and taking notes! Additionally, any abrupt changes in the eyes should warrant an ASAP trip to your eye professional. If you have a relationship with yours, they will be more likely to see you quickly in cases of urgent need.
Secondly, be aware that any💊 medication 💊that affects neurological function may also affect vision and cause changes throughout the eye, including the cornea, optic nerve, lens, macula and retina. Some of these changes may be gradual or nearly instant and some may be temporary while others can lead to permanent vision impairment. I won’t be able to list all the medications because there are so many! If you suspect a medication may be partially responsible for an eye disturbance, do some digging and then talk to your doctor.
With that…. Let’s start unpacking more clues!
👀The appearance of slightly bulging eyes is a significant clue for a possible overactive thyroid that is also called Graves disease. Frequently, this disorder is ignited by exposure to environmental toxins in the home, workplace or in the water. Latent viruses such as Epstein Barr have also been implicated in playing a role in developing a chronically inflamed thyroid (leading to either hyper or hypo thyroid manifestation).
👀Another easy to spot clue from the peepers is a gray or whitish ring that is clearly visible around the cornea. The cornea is the lens that covers the “colored” part of the eyeball. Evidence of this ring usually indicates unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and is a marker for increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
👀Droopy eyelids (ptosis) may be a be a genetic issue, especially if present at birth. Eyelids that become droopy are the clue for this discussion. Medical conditions that can lead to droopy eyelids include:
👉Injury/trauma to head or eye
👉Decreased blood flow to either the eye or the area of the brain controlling the eye (a droopy eye may be an early stroke sign)
👉Diabetes. Remember that diabetes quietly becomes a vascular disease if not controlled.
👉Headache syndromes. (a visible manifestation of the headache)
👉Myasthenia gravis. A droopy eyelid is often the first symptom of this autoimmune disease that is most commonly seen in people over the age of 50. It may be accompanied by occasional double vision, a hoarse voice, or weakness in the arms and legs.
👀Optic neuropathy simply means damage, disease, or dysfunction of the optic nerve. It may be caused by toxin exposure, infection, an autoimmune disorder, chronic inflammation, trauma, glaucoma, insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve, or use of certain medications including those used for erectile dysfunction and amiodarone, a medication used to control heart rhythm. Symptoms of optic neuropathy include pain in the face or eye socket, pain inside the eye, loss of peripheral vision, or sudden or gradual vision loss. Ophthalmologists and OD’s can detect inflammation of the optic nerve on routine eye exams. #makeanannualeyeappointment
👀Eyes that are painful, red and sensitive to light gives a vast set of possibilities. Given how “screen focused” our culture is, know that computer eye syndrome is a real thing! Give yourself regular breaks from screen time, and use blue light filter glasses when you are spending hours at a time in front of a computer or phone screen. Unmanaged, this can lead to eye strain or dry eyes. Wearing contact lenses for too long may have a similar effect.
👀If screens are not your eyes source of issue, other causes may need to be investigated. Chronic redness in the sclera (the white part of the eye) is linked to systemic inflammation throughout the entire body, and indicate a possible autoimmune disorder (ex: RA, psoriasis, or ankylosing spondylitis). If light sensitivity is accompanied by “halos” around light sources, get checked for glaucoma!
👀If your eyes sting, burn, or feel “gritty”, chances are, you are experiencing dry eyes. In fact, we have all probably had brief episodes of dry eyes after riding a bike, spent too much time in front of a computer, lived in an area with dry winter heat, or been on a plane for many hours in low humidity recirculated air. Chronic dry eyes have been linked to an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, Vitamin A deficiency, or taking certain medications known to cause dry eyes as a side effect. 💊Antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, beta blockers (heart/blood pressure), certain antibiotics, ibuprofen, birth control pills, and meds for bladder control💊 are some of the more common culprits.
👀Rapid onset eye inflammation / sensitivity is often a clue indicating infection or inflammation.
👀Blurred vision is another clue to take seriously. While the clue may be manifesting as an inconvenient or annoying visual impairment, dangerously high blood pressure or high blood sugar are causing problems quietly elsewhere in the body. An estimated 73% of diabetic patients have bouts of blurred vision. High blood sugar causes the lens within the eye to swell, causing the blurring. Certain medications may also contribute to blurred vision:
💊Alendronate (for osteoporosis/ osteopenia)
💊COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex and Mobic (for pain and inflammation)
💊Acetaminophen, ranitidine (stomach acid), and lovastatin (cholesterol) are just three very common medications that also carry warnings about their potential to blur vision.
👀Red itchy “allergy” eyes may indeed be allergy related. However, the same symptoms also occur in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Approximately 1.3 million Americans have this autoimmune disorder. The immune system begins attacking body tissue, and its focus is generally tissue heavily laden in collagen. The sclera (the white part of the eye) and the cornea are made up almost entirely of collagen, and the inflammation there mimics allergen exposure.
👀An eye twitch can be ever so bothersome, yet it’s an important clue too. Check yourself…. They are generally related to fatigue or stress. It may be time to rest and recover! Chronic eye twitching should signal a visit to a health professional as it can be an early sign of a neurological disorder.
👀Yellowed eyes are a sign that the liver is struggling… a classic sign of jaundice. This is another ASAP health professional moment.
👀“Floaters” are gray or black specks, strings or cobwebs that appear in vision. If you suddenly notice floaters, contact your eye specialist immediately. Certain medications are known to cause floaters. 💊, diphenhydramine (antihistamine), diltiazem (blood pressure), amitriptyline (mood), and alprazolam(anxiety)💊 are among those known to cause this.
As I write, I’m reminded again of the impact that chronic toxin exposure has on our bodies… all the way up to our eyeballs! The liver and other detoxifying organs do their level best to keep us healthy, but they are not miracle workers. We have to claim ownership and do our part by avoiding toxins wherever possible by making a conscious effort to exercise, drink plenty of clean water, get plenty of sleep, manage our stress, and eat healthy clean food. So much medication 💊(a class of toxins all its own) may be avoided by caring for ourselves this way.
What conscious decisions did you make today that decreased your toxin load?🙌 I chose to use YL body care products in the shower this morning and YL Cinnafresh deodorant before I put my clothes👖👕 on. I brushed my teeth with fluoride free YL Thieves Aromabright toothpaste, and bypassed an impending headache by using peppermint 🌿on the roof of my mouth. I finished out my time in the bathroom by avoiding some of the worst toxins☠️ in our homes….. standard American cosmetics. The Savvy Minerals makeup line is not only gorgeous and long lasting, it is liver friendly too!
You are worth taking care of!
Thanks for making it easy Young Living!
‘Tis the season to chat about zinc (or lack thereof!). Frankly, we should have had this discussion two years ago…..better late than never, right? First, take a close look at the clues I dropped in the graphic, and then hop back here to tackle this very important topic!
Approximately 25-33% of the population is deficient in zinc. The World Health Organization says zinc deficiency is the 5th leading life-threatening factor in the world, especially in 57% of the elderly population. Kind of a big deal for a micronutrient! At least 16% of all deep respiratory infections are related to a zinc deficiency (impaired taste and smell, fever, cough, sore throat, generalized weakness, pain and achy limbs, runny nose, and even occasionally…. diarrhea😬 are all symptoms of deficiency btw).
Why? Zinc is one of the white hat good guys . It has over 200 known roles in body function (just take a look again at some of the clues related to low zinc), and is a key player in our immune system:
✅Adequate zinc is essential for preventing viral entry and also supports appropriate viral response in host cells.
✅Adequate zinc supports ciliary strength and action in the lungs. These are tiny hairlike structures in the lungs that help prevent mucus buildup.
✅Adequate zinc levels directly inhibit viral replication.
✅Adequate zinc levels have a supportive role in balancing immune response during a dis-ease process.
Additionally, 🔥zinc deficiency🔥 has been shown to play a role in:
🔥Type I Diabetes
👉Excess is not stored in the body. Intake must occur daily.
👉Both deficiency and excess can negatively impact immune system function. This is but one reason to have thorough blood work run by a healthcare professional who will take the time to do a complete analysis.
👉Zinc “overload” is rare, but can certainly happen. When it does, it is usually due to a copper deficiency or zinc:copper ratio imbalance. (again, labwork!)
How did we become a world of zinc deficient people? Toxins and poor farming practices. Overworked soil and fertilizers containing too much phosphorus (which binds zinc) are to blame. Zinc cannot enter into the plants and then fails to make it into the food chain.
High toxin☠️exposure is also to blame. Just one more excellent reason to kick your known household toxins to the curb (toxins typically found in mainstream cleaning products, personal care items, processed foods and beverages, makeup etc). Thankfully, we have solutions in place🙌 with Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner, a wonderful skincare line, and even our amazing YL Savvy Makeup collection. Kicking toxins to the curb is so easy knowing that pure unadulterated excellence is waiting to replace them!
Other causes of zinc deficiency:
🔥Chronic stress (depletes zinc rapidly)
🔥A high copper to zinc ratio
🔥Leaky gut and digestive disorders (zinc deficiency is both cause and effect!)
🔥Medication usage: ACE inhibitors (blood pressure), antacids and proton pump inhibitors, glucophage, beta blockers (blood pressure), birth control pills, corticosteroids, diuretics, NSAIDS, and statins are among those known to deplete zinc.
The USDA recommended daily allowance for zinc is 10-12 mg/day, but this does not account for the amount of toxins a person may be regularly exposed to. Many functional medicine doctors suggest that optimal daily zinc should be 20-40mg/day.
Foods high in zinc include pumpkin seeds, grass fed dairy (ex: Kerrygold Butter) , cashews, almonds, spinach, asparagus, dark chocolate, grass fed meat, salmon, mushrooms, and turkey.
Thankfully, we also have several Young Living Supplements containing zinc to supplement what we may get from food:
*Organic dried Wolfberries (1.8mg per 100gms)
* Immupro chewable tablets (5mg/tablet)
*Super B (3mg/2 tablets)
*Powergize (5mg / capsule)
*Balance Complete (4mg/ serving)
*AminoWise (2.1mg/ serving)
*Master Formula (15mg/packet)
*MightyVites (for the littles….. 1.1mg/tablet)
*Mineral Essence (contains Zinc and 61 other important trace minerals)
*NingXia Red (contains zinc by virtue of its ingredients. I was unable to determine how much zinc it has per serving)
It’s a good idea to achieve the RDA minimum requirements on a daily basis (especially since zinc is not stored in the body!). My personal preference is to try to achieve the optimal recommendations by way of the foods I eat, and then supplementing with a variety of what is available to us with a Young Living membership. Immupro and Master Formula are two of my faves! In the event of illness, a larger mg/day may be needed.
Finally, there is a test you can do at home. It’s called a zinc tally/challenge (you can find more info on this online). It is an oral “taste test”. What you taste (no or weak taste versus a strong metallic taste) is an additional clue for the “health” of your zinc levels.
As always, do your research, and consult your favorite healthcare professional who should be well versed in analyzing blood work if you suspect you may have a zinc deficiency.
(PS: if you do not have a health care professional, I do offer blood work analysis)