Over the course of evolutionary time, the human body has become reliant on the acute stress response to overcome short-term adversity. But human physiology is simply not adapted to the relatively modern phenomenon of unrelenting low-level stress. Consequently, we now face an epidemic of health problems to which chronic stress is a contributing factor.1,2
A key feature of chronic stress is dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a network of signaling centers in the brain and body that modulates our physiological response to stress. Normal activation of the HPA axis is necessary for healthy adaptive responses to stressors, but chronic activation leads to a maladaptive stress response marked by changes in the release and activity of the stress hormone, cortisol, which contributes to stress-related illness.2,3 Interactions between the HPA axis and the central nervous system, immune system, and gut microbiome contribute the wide-ranging effects of stress on overall health.4,5
The good news is that making healthy lifestyle decisions and adhering to a healthy diet can enhance resistance to the detrimental effects of chronic stress.4-6 In this protocol, you will learn how chronic stress causes health problems and how you can improve your ability to cope with stress and fortify yourself against the negative health effects of our stressful modern world.