Dr. Hans Selye, (1907-1982), the “father of stress research,” discovered that hormones participate in the development of many degenerative diseases, including coronary thrombosis, brain hemorrhage, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and kidney failure, arthritis, peptic ulcers and even cancer.
In general, the hormonal responses aid adaptation to environmental change or stimuli, but they are sometimes the cause of disease, especially if the state of stress is prolonged or intense. When this occurs, the body goes through the three stages of what is called the "general adaptation syndrome." Stage One: Alarm, Stage Two: Resistance, Stage Three: Exhaustion.
Stage One: Alarm
It is important for this stage to function normally as it generates a number of critical metabolic responses for any person.
Release of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, occur in this stage. These hormones are valuable and highly desirable in the short term (when being chased by a tiger), but become disruptive to effective cellular function over a long period of time. Cortisol is a hormone with wide ranging effects on tissues throughout the body. Too much cortisol can have a negative on many body functions. One of the most widely recognized is its immunosuppressive effect. It also has a negative impact on energy regulation. Cortisol decreases the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into muscle cells (and several other types of cell). This is meant to be a protective response during short bursts of stress, conserving blood glucose for essential functions and vital organs, such as brain activity. However, during any prolonged stress, cortisol depresses the immune system and decreases the availability of energy supplies, resulting in an impaired sense of general health and well-being.
Check back tomorrow for information on Stage Two - Resistance.