Stress and the GAS

Science has established, supposedly, that the mind can’t tell the difference between an imagined and a real experience. I’m not convinced about that, but what I do know is that the body responds similarly to stress whether it is physical or psychological.

The stress hormones interact with glucagon to raise blood glucose for that ‘fight or flight’. When we don’t act on that, we raise insulin/IGF-1 in an attempt to normalise blood glucose again.

Problems arise when the food we eat causes this response, we lead a stressful life, and we have a diminished capacity to cope with it too, for example if we are unfit.

Hans Selye coined the phrase General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which has three phases. First there is an alarm stage, which sees a ‘calling to arms’ of the body’s defence mechanisms. Then there is a stage of adaptation, where we attempt to cope with whatever the stressor is. In the example of intense weight training, we grow larger and stronger muscles so that future sessions are not so stressful to the body. The third stage is reached if the stress is too intense and/or carried on for too long, and results in exhaustion. This lowers immunity, increases the size of the endocrine glands, and causes gastric abnormalities; commonly ulcers.

The relevance of this to modern living is that many people are exposed to cumulative stress on a daily basis, such as toxins and social pressure, and their capacity to cope with such stress is diminished by their diet, lack of physical fitness, or lack of cultural support for instance (“I don’t know what to do about this, and neither do people I meet”).

We can start by taking control of the aspects of our life we can have power over; learn to relax, exercise sufficient to improve physical capacity and not so much we can’t recover fully, and eat real foods that provide the nutrients we need without spiking our hormone levels.

3 Replies

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  • Not sure what this has to do with GF Guerrillas. There must be a better place to sound out. If we all sounded out our ideas in psychology, philosophy or ideals there would be no room to talk about being coeliac - and no amount of adaptation on my part, will change the fact that eating gluten will damage my gut.

    As for intense weight training, in order to build big muscles, I damage my muscles by overworking them. The proteins I consume and rest days afterwards repair.

  • I'm sorry you don't perceive any of the concepts of benefit.

  • Concerned, I see you post mostly in the low carb high fat forum and would suggest this post might be better suited there. Here, we share experiences about living gluten free, made ridiculously difficult by the fact the stuff is everywhere and frustratingly hard to avoid without constant vigilance - label reading, calling food manufacturers to double check something's safe to eat, playing Russian roulette every time we eat out, hoping against hope that the waiter/waitress/chef truly understands what gluten free really means and that we won't be ill for upwards of a week afterwards.

    Not saying folk aren't open to reading other things but this probably isn't the place - there are very few sanctuaries for the gluten sensitive.

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