The most damaging, naturally occurring toxin we are exposed to on a daily basis is stress. Now that I’ve said it, it seems obvious doesn’t it? We know stress is harmful but we probably don’t think of it as a toxin. But the truth is, stress affects your body in the same way many toxins do and it leads to many significant health problems if not addressed.
Toxins can affect our bodies in several ways. They can alter our cells genetically, they can attack and kill cells, they can leech vitamins and nutrients from our bodies and they can impede our bodies ability to absorb nutrients. Depending on the type of toxin, the side effects can range from headaches, inflamed respiratory tract to neurological problems and brain damage to cardiovascular disease, immune disorders and cancer.
Stress reduces your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. So, if you are like many Americans and are already nutrient deprived, this puts you at a further disadvantage.
According to WebMD:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Because all toxins, including stress, weaken our immune system, an important part of detoxing to both remove the source of the toxin and to radically increase our nutrient, vitamin and mineral intake. If these come from clean foods, these help your body process and flush out the toxins it has stored.
The physical, mental and emotional impacts of stress are significant and can many times be debilitating. It contributes to almost all chronic diseases. Stress is a very dangerous condition and yet it seems impossible to avoid it. And unlike other toxins that everyone agrees we should avoid, like arsenic, mercury, lead, BPA and others, stress is a toxin we embrace. Maybe we wouldn’t admit that, but if you watch our actions, the way we put ourselves in stressful situations, the way we take on more than we should, the way we stay in bad relationships and bad jobs, it’s undeniable, we like the stress.
One reason I think we like the stress is because it often produces adrenaline. And we like adrenaline. It makes us feel like we are involved in something exciting. It makes us feel present in the moment and alert. So often, when we are nutrient deprived we are sluggish. Our energy is lacking, our passions are gone, we are tired. So when we get a burst of adrenaline, even if it’s related to stress, we finally feel alive. We all want to feel alive. I’m going to challenge myself (and please join me) to feel alive without stress. Exercise, service to others, raw foods … these all can help us feel that burst of energy we are seeking. And they won’t kill us, like stress will. In fact, they will help us live longer.