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The Relationship Between Stress, Trauma & Diabetes Type 2

Reduce stress to reduce the effects of diabetes.

Posted Jan 21, 2018

There are broadly 3 types of stress that exist along a spectrum: Eustress, stress, and traumatic stress. Eustress is a word coined by Dr. Hans Selye. Eustress refers to the stress that arises from a positive chal­lenge, such as a new job, learning a new skill or (extreme) exercise. Whether stress has positive or negative effects in one’s life depends to a great degree on the individual perception of the stressor and its meaning to their life. In “normal stress,” for example, regular life events such as attending school, job changes, relocation, marriage, or partner­ships combine with an individual’s sense of control and purpose, determining the level of perceived stress. The perception of an event, coupled with an individual sense of control, influence physical and emotional response to the stress. Yet, persistent multiple stressors may also lead to lowered immune response and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. Chronic stress also impairs the ability of the body to metabolize glucose

Under chronic stress, hormones (glucocor­ticoids) such as cortisol are antagonists to the production of insulin. Thus excess stress leads to high cortisol and reduces the ability of insulin to not only produce, but also to be used by cells. Think of a hammer that keeps banging on a door to say “let me pound this nail in,” but the door is cement and won’t let the nail in. Excess stress turned the door from wood, which would accept the nail, into cement, which will not. In normal hormone cycles, cortisol is higher in the morning in order to energize the start of the day, and as the day progresses it lowers until it reaches its lowest ebb at midnight during sleep. However, under acute stress (and too many refined dietary carbohydrates), cortisol can remain elevated throughout the day and even shoot higher at night leading to insomnia and exhaustion the next day. There is no question that managing stress and cortisol levels improves blood glucose levels.

There are other reasons that persist­ently high cortisol is dangerous to health. An elevated cortisol level often accompanies or drives Type A behavior: impatience, irrita­bility and “workaholism.” Workaholism, or “addiction to stress,” commonly occurs as a stage of recovery following the more dangerous addictions, such as sugar, drugs, and alcohol that have been eliminated. This stage reveals the body’s physi­ological or biological addiction is still in process. Understanding how the body drives behavior and how behavior drives biology can help an individual understand the requirements for complete heal­ing. Cortisol has been referred to as the “hormone of death” because it binds to nerve cells, called neuro­nal receptors, in the brain leading to increased calcium levels in the membranes.

Too much calcium leads to cell death and this has been impli­cated in cognitive decline. Dementia is now called Diabetes Type 3. Over time the experience of chronic, relentless stress (family, financial, work, war, health or accidental stressors) can deplete cortisol, leading to fatigue and depression. This is like a car without gas in the tank and yet, even when filled with “gas” (energy), it won’t go very fast because there are holes in the tank. Diabetes often occurs at the end of this stream of events: Childhood stress > excess refined carbohydrates > adult stress > excess refined carbohydrates > fatigue > coffee > depression > diabetes > pain. With depleted cortisol, the individual feels tired in the morning, often wanting to sleep in, but feeling low energy will use stimulants like cof­fee and sugar to get energy. This is like taking that hammer to the gas tank with holes in it and saying: “get going!” It doesn’t work because it’s the wrong type of fuel.

With diabetes type 2 there is also a history of poor digestion. Improving digestion is important to managing stress and mood. Mood re­sponds to blood sugar. When blood glucose is balanced, mood is also balanced and the emotional ups and downs of the day even out. Digestion and intestinal health are important to mood because many of the neurotransmitters that govern mood such as serotonin are made in the small intestine where food is digested. Neurotransmitters (NT) are brain chemicals that communi­cate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between neurons. They affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, carbohydrate cravings, addictions and can contribute to depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia when they are not in balance. Pharmaceutical-grade amino acids may be compounded according to the specific bio­chemical needs of the individual to provide the building blocks that support specific NT production. Minerals like Chromium and vanadium also help regulate blood glucose. I address a comprehensive nutritional strategy in my book: Preventing and Treating Diabetes Naturally, The Native Way.

Stress and depression are exacerbated by poor liver and gall bladder function. Poor food quality, especially trans-fats and fried foods, leads to a liver and a gall bladder that are unable to process these fats leading to sluggishness and stones or gravel. In tradi­tional Chinese medicine, a congested gall bladder is said to cause angry feelings. The symptoms of gall bladder problems include burping, flatulence, a feeling of heavi­ness after a meal, shoulder pain or pain under the ribs on the right side or in the back directly behind the diaphragm. Awakening with bloodshot eyes is another sign of gall bladder problems. Good liver and gall bladder function are essen­tial to prevention and treatment of diabetes. Removal of the gall bladder solves nothing and exacer­bates health problems. Removal decreases the body’s capacity to digest foods. The gall bladder is required to emulsify the essential fatty acids so important in keeping depression and stress low, regulating glucose balance, and maintaining artery health and low systemic inflammation. If the GB is not functioning well, then even something as nutritious as fish or fish oil capsules will be less effective because those nutrients are not being digested properly. When the gall bladder is re­moved these problems become worse. Removing a gall bladder is like throwing out the garbage can, instead of the garbage. Surgery should be avoided at all costs. For individuals who have had their GB removed, replacement supplements should include natural ox bile. Beets and beet tops, are rich in betaine, are an excellent food that as­sists Gall Bladder function.

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