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Stress : Understanding Stress

By Natural Vitality

Feeling stressed? Who isn't. The bigger problem, though, is that most people ignore stress because they are afraid that they're ill-equipped to manage it. The more stress builds, the harder it is to release and the greater impact it has on the body.

Think about it this way: The body is an organic machine that needs regular maintenance to balance stress with relaxation. Rather than deny stress, accept it as a reality that needs daily (not once-in-a-while or even once-a-week) management.

Stress Inputs

There are three main types of stress: emotional, physical, and chemical. For Americans, the top causes are money, work, the economy, and job stability, according to the APA. Stress can also come from alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

Naturally, the daily challenges listed here are what most of us associate with stress. However, the problem goes far deeper than emotional -- literally deep into the body. In order to truly address stress, it's important to know what's happening at that cellular level, in addition to the emotional level.

Cellular Stress

Most of us believe that the release of cortisol is at the center of stress reactions, but there is much more to the story. Every time the body experiences stress, there is a complex interaction between calcium and magnesium.

In a healthy scenario, when a cell is at rest, magnesium is inside the cells and calcium is on the outside, waiting until it is called to action. When activity needs to take place, such as the firing of a nerve, the contraction of a muscle, or the secretion of a hormone, calcium and magnesium exchange places to allow the function to occur. When the stress ceases, magnesium helps push calcium back outside the cell, allowing it to "calm down" and be ready for the next time it is needed.

Stress hormones cause a sudden rise in calcium-dependent reactions, like energy production, nerve-impulse transmission, increased muscle function, and heart and blood vessel responses. Adequate magnesium stops a negative chain reaction of stress and helps you return to a calm state. With the right flow of nutrients, the body can better recover from stress attacks from the outside.

Americans are woefully deficient in magnesium; about half the population is lacking in this important mineral.

Unchecked, unbalanced stress can cause worry, anxiety and panic attacks, irritability, and depression. Over the long term it is important to manage chronic stress and maintain adequate magnesium levels to support healthy weight, strong immunity, and healthy inflammatory response.

The reasons we are not getting enough magnesium include:
1. As our diets have become less nutrient dense, we're not eating as many magnesium-rich foods.
2. Our soil has been stripped of its magnesium, causing lower levels of magnesium within foods themselves.
3. The stress response is magnesium dependent; the more stressed we are, the more magnesium depleted we become.
4. Caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol, which may be used in attempts to mitigate stress, also rob the body of this mineral.

Unchecked, unbalanced stress can cause worry, anxiety and panic attacks, irritability, and depression. Over the long term it is important to manage chronic stress and maintain adequate magnesium levels to support healthy weight, strong immunity, and healthy inflammatory response.

© 2015 Natural Vitality
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