Reported by Dr. Joseph Mercola 12.11.10: “…type 2 diabetes is virtually 100 percent preventable…” and “The problem is that the conventional advice for preventing and managing this disease is incorrect, which is why most doctors’ advice causes diabetics to die.” Click here to read article
What does the word stress mean to you? Sitting in a traffic jam when you have a meeting to go to? Having more work than you can reasonably cope with? Family arguments? Illness? Stress comes in many guises. Some stress is needed – call it motivation if you like – or we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning! When we feel the effects, it is usually due to repeated or continual stress. We become tetchy – even volatile; our concentration diminishes; our judgement becomes impaired; sleep is difficult or unrefreshing; skin problems emerge or our digestion suffers. I could fill this blog with the effects of stress. We don’t normally suffer from all the effects but many of them will come and go as stress increases.
We need to understand why this happens to us before we can control its effects. All animals experience this, because it serve a purpose. It is all due to the need to survive. You will have heard of the “fight or flight” reaction. For example, if you have a close encounter with a snake, given the right circumstances the snake will “leg it”, but if it is cornered it will strike. Having too much work to do doesn’t, superficially, appear the same thing but as far as the body is concerned, the same chemical reactions are started up. The effects of this are inconsequential when it is an occasional occurrence. It’s normal and our bodies cope well. We run into problems when the effects are repeated or constant.
Our stress hormones set up numerous responses to help us with the fight or flight decision; we breathe more rapidly; our blood sugar rises; blood pressure increases; the nerves to bowel/bladder/stomach become less sensitive (we do not need to be rushing to the loo before we run!); hearts beat faster; tiredness disappears – again I could fill the blog with these effects. Over time these change to more serious problems – blood pressure and pulse rate rarely return to normal, we have constipation or diarrhoea or suffer indigestion and sleep is elusive. This is an over-simplification of what happens but hopefully, you get the point. The fact is, it’s a whole body experience and can have lasting effects on health. The solution is easier said than done. RELAX! I know this is not very helpful and therefore my next blog will be about how you can avoid stress, or at least control it.
Chronic stress can be felt as being out of control. The condition which gets us up in the morning we call motivation – hunger, needing the loo, getting the kids up, going to work etc. These are all fine most of the time but sometimes the pressure of all this “motivation” starts to affect our ability to function normally (see previous blog).
There are many coping strategies and you already know most of them. Why then do we find them so difficult to implement? It’s mostly to do with our fears: We don’t want to appear weak/incapable/untrustworthy/slacking/uncompromising and neither do we want to be unpopular. We have to learn to say “NO” as well as time management/prioritising and delegation – both at work and at home.
For example: I don’t “do ironing”. A very good friend of mine (in her 60s) told me that she doesn’t “do ironing” and I didn’t believe her – she always looks so lovely. She puts everything in the tumble drier for ten minutes then gets it out, shakes it and it continues drying on the line or radiators. So now I do this – if it is not good enough for those in the house – they know where the iron is (but I don’t!). This is a great time saver and there are many others, too many to list here. A brainstorming session at home or at work will undoubtedly come up with lots of ideas; just don’t be afraid to do things differently. If the outcome is the same, does it matter how it gets done?
Prioritising work is also important. Once you have made a list, stick to it. If you have prioritised at work, bash out some short emails to those at the bottom saying that you have the work in hand and you will get the work done by ****(over-estimate). Then, make a note and get it done a week before that time. They will be delighted and you will be less stressed and get brownie points too! At home, get the teenagers cooking the dinner – they get to choose the menu. (You can have pizza once in a while!) When someone offers (or even ask them) to help with collecting kids from school etc. SAY THANK YOU – you can reciprocate when you have less on.
Sleep can be the first thing to suffer when you’re stressed. You fall into bed, completely shattered, and are still awake two hours later working out how to cope with tomorrow. Or, you go straight to sleep and wake up at 2am! Get a routine. We get our children focussed on the bedtime routine because we know they need it. But so do WE! Having a little relaxation time during the day can pay dividends at bed time. Some people find that yoga or uplifting music can be helpful.
Even if it is just a half hour routine, it can make all the difference. A warm bath (with essential oils if you like), a warm milky drink, a chapter of a trashy novel and into bed – with ear plugs if necessary. Make sure you are warm enough – a hot water bottle can be a real comfort. I think it is good practice in a partnership to sleep in separate rooms if one partner is having trouble sleeping. Actually, I believe it can be a relationship saver for some.
Take control now before it gets out of hand!
Our immune systems are remarkable. They work tirelessly to keep us well but we must consciously give our bodies what they need for this function to ensure maximum protection from invading organisms.
Before I move on to this, I will just say a word or two about avoiding infection in the first place. We cannot live without micro-organisms. Remember this. We have to build up a resistance to those that could make us ill so there is no point in trying to avoid ALL germs. If you had somehow been protected from all organisms from birth, you would quickly die on exposure to the outside environment. We gain immunity all our lives. (An illustration of this is swine flu – older people have met this virus before and have resistance to it, so they don’t suffer from it as severely or as often.)
That said, we don’t want to invite infection. We must take some precautions and these are usually simple measures of either barriers or washing.
Here are some examples:
- Barriers: use tissues if you sneeze or cough, use condoms to prevent the sexually transmitted diseases, use gloves if you have contact with excrement – obvious I know! (Or if you are nappy changing your own child, wash thoroughly afterwards.
- Dressings to keep infections out of wounds.
- Washing: Wash hands frequently (definitely after using the loo) – bugs live on door handles and Jo Public does not wash his hands! Wash wounds before covering them.
- Wash food preparation areas often, but anti-bacterial sprays are unnecessary. Wash salads and fruit. Basically, if it looks dirty, it probably is. If you have just chopped raw meat you must clean it immediately so that you don’t forget.
- Toilets should be cleaned frequently.
So now to the dietary factors:
In order to keep your friendly probiotic microbes in tip-top form – eat homemade or bought fresh sauerkraut , natural organic full-fat yogurt or kefir.
Most of the vitamins and minerals needed for life are also needed for healthy immune systems and I suspect that this means immunity and life are inextricably linked.
The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are important for correct immune function. Get short spells of sun exposure (for vitamin D) frequently without sunscreen. Do NOT burn – use sunscreen when your skin is just pink.The water soluble vitamins C and some of the B group are vital as are the minerals zinc, iron and selenium. They all have their own jobs to do as well as reacting with other chemicals to keep us in peak, infection-fighting condition.
Before you go rushing out to buy supplements, you can get all of these in an easily-
assimilated form from the following organic foods:
Eggs, liver & kidneys (from grazing animals) and/or shellfish. Golden butter and grass-fed animal fats are the best sources of the fat-soluble vitamins.