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We all know that exercise, clean eating, and proper supplementation can have a profound impact on our health. But what about our stress? If left unchecked, it can ruin your holidays and hurt your health.
The truth is that no amount of supplements or good nutrition could counteract the toxic effects of chronic, repetitive stress responses on the body – and the overload of cortisol and epinephrine that accompany these physiological "fight-or-flight" responses. Chronic stress has been found to increase the risk of anxiety, depression, digestive problem, heart disease, and sleep problems just to name a few.
In addition, it increases both the risk and duration of cold and flu symptoms substantially – not fun. However, when we are better able to adapt to these stress responses, the natural self-repair mechanisms of the body are able to go about the business of doing what they do best – heal the body. This is where chiropractic fits in. After all, balance is the key when we're dealing with the nervous system.
When the spine shifts from it's normal structure – there are 3 components involved: a misalignment of the vertebrae, which then causes fixation (the bone becomes stuck), which in turn leads to interference and stress placed on the nerve(s) in that area. We know now that this can cause the entire nervous system to go into a state of fight/flight – known as the sympathetic stress response.
How to Better Adapt to Stress
Going through life we all experience physical, chemical and emotional stress. These stresses affect the function of the nervous system. Research done on serium thiol levels – which reflect our DNA's capacity to repair itself and can be used to measure aging and disease status – has shown that Chiropractic care appears to improve the ability of the body to adapt to stress.
In the study, the participants that received chiropractic care for 2 or more years had higher serum thiol levels than those with disease. In fact, some of the chiropractic patients had serum thiol levels higher than what is associated with normal wellness.
Another way in which researchers determine how our bodies react to stress is Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV is not an exact diagnosis of disease but rather an indicator of the present state of how we're adapting to stressors. An increase in variability is linked with the increased adaptability to environmental stimuli. A decrease in variability has been linked to any number of pre- degenerative or morbid, deteriorating physiologic states (illness). Chiropractic adjustments have been proven (Zhang studies) to positively influence the variability.
The Immune System
Chiropractic care also helps us to stay well by impacting our immune system. In our bodies there are numerous modes of communication between the nervous system and the immune system. The nervous system has a direct effect on the immune system due to the nerve supply to the important immune system organs. As chiropractors, we have a direct influence over the nervous system. We now know through research that chiropractic care has beneficial effects on immunoglobulins, B-lymphocytes (white blood cells), pulmonary function and other immune system processes.
Chiropractic was founded on the principle that the body has natural self-repair mechanisms, and that these are capable of fighting illness and preventing infection when working optimally. But whenever the nervous system is in "fight-or-flight" and isn't working well enough to adapt, the body's natural ability to self heal is disabled. Regular chiropractic care can help you and your body better adapt to stress this holiday season.