In our Partner Spotlight series, we share some of our amazing partners and the transformative work they’re doing in their health practices.
Our dnaPower Partners incorporate DNA testing into their practice to help clients improve their health and wellness more effectively and with quicker results by pinpointing specific areas of concern that might otherwise go undetected, or require trial and error to uncover. More information about how you can become a dnaPower Partner can be found here.
Meet Dr. Seema Kanwal, a naturopathic doctor practicing at Balance Medical Center. She is one of few naturopathic physicians to hold pharmaceutical prescription rights in British Columbia and one of the only naturopathic physicians in Canada to be trained in the Apo E Diet. Today, Dr. Seema Kanwa will be touching upon the subject of stress and how we can overcome stress in a proactive and positive way.
Alleviating the Ubiquity of Stress
Stress is ubiquitous.
Everyone experiences it, almost anything in one’s environment can cause it (even the internal mental environment), and our bodies have a myriad of ways of dealing with it. When we are under physical duress or perceived mental distress, our bodies undergo a physiological stress response. Whether the demand is stemming from sitting in an uncomfortable chair in an office all day, worrying about how the next bill is going to be paid, or dwelling about negative events that have happened or may happen, the response in the body is the same.
So what does happen?
Hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine, are produced by the adrenal glands. Stress triggers those hormones to be released into the bloodstream to prepare the body to fight perceived dangers by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This also triggers a signal to pause or delay efficiency in other body systems, in order to make more energy available for the body to use as fuel.
When physical action is necessary to evade danger (outrunning a large predator for example) this response cascade is exactly what we would need to escape and save ourselves. Unfortunately, the world in which we live does not offer much of an outlet for those physiological triggers to run their course. Thus, with little or no opportunity to fully release our stress physically, the body redirects the response inward and thusly reduces the effectiveness of our organ systems. That results in a strain on our organisms and causes the symptoms of stress to manifest in all areas of the body.
Fatigue (throughout the day and compounded by a difficulty falling asleep), anxiety, insomnia, perceived body pains or aches, food cravings, weight gain, hair loss, inability to focus, extreme tiredness after exercise, decreased libido and decreased immune function. That isn’t even including the potential increased risk of disease.
Prolonged stress unleashes a longer-lasting cortisol/adrenaline cascade and as a result, our adrenal glands can become over-worked. The excess cortisol elevates our blood sugar, causes additional inflammation, and puts the body into a catabolic state (meaning that repair cannot take place). Studies show that chronic stress is associated with earlier menopause and andropause (male menopause), as well as increased incidence of ulcers, cancers, heart disease, hypertension, depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, and dementia, as well as ageing.
There is also a key link between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stress. The underlying chronic stress caused by the IBS can make it worse which can then further compound the already existing digestive issues even more. It’s a vicious cycle that can resemble the “chicken and egg” metaphor. One makes the other worse which, in turn, makes the first worse. Stress causes hormones to be released leading to decreased levels of good gut bacteria and inhibits digestion further, causing more stress on and within the body.
So what can I do?
Stress does not discriminate. None of us are immune, and our exposure to stress can vary based on our disposition, our work and home lives, events and trauma, and the physical health and strength of our bodies.
The key to overcoming stress is to recognize its source, understand the physiological response your body is having to it, and pivot your thoughts and actions to help mitigate it. Because stress can be so dangerous and debilitating, it is important for every one of us to learn how to deal with it effectively as it occurs and, ideally, prevent or reduce its occurrence in the first place.
Finding ways to deal with stress, whether it is through exercise, meditation, or a slew of other relief options is essential. Avoidance doesn’t solve anything. Finding stress sources and relieving them, however, does.
Our patients, no matter what unique situation has brought them into our clinic, all have one thing in common: a quest for vitality and vibrant living. dnaPower has proven to be a valuable tool for so many of our patients as it provides tailored solutions for so many aspects of improving health and wellness.
They say ‘knowledge is power’, and we know that awareness is the first step toward taking action. The depth and breadth of information that the dnaPower test offers our patients has proven to be a valuable tool along their quest toward improving their health and overcoming stress.
By learning more deeply about our physiological blueprints, we are all able to better understand ourselves: where we’ve come from, why we are the way we are, and most importantly – how to take charge of where we are going.