Is Stress shrinking your brain?

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Here at The Stress Management Society, believe that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ stress, there is just one stress response. We are all under constant pressure nowadays due to technology increases and societal changes which only heightens our stress levels. As many of us know, decreasing stressors in your life is proven to increase your overall health and happiness. This is because; stress affects blood sugar levels and can be a contributing factor in long-term mental health problems such as; anxiety, depression, disrupted sleep and depressed immune function. All of which, decreases your immune system’s ability to fight off infections and has been proven to put you at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer disease later on in life.

Dementia and Alzheimer disease was the leading cause of death in the UK during 2015. Affecting women more than men, 15.2% of women suffered from it. There are many ways stress has been said to affect the development of this disease including stress causing brain lesions to form more quickly.

Chronic stress decreases levels of a protein, which is vital in the production of new brain cells. This cause’s the brain to go into a highly inflamed state, which causes structural damage, resulting in the body not being able to clear harmful waste products, destroying cells and effectively shrinking the brain. Uncontrolled stress also triggers a hormonal cascade which affects the brain in many ways.

It has been thought that, just one stressful event is enough to destroy brain cells in our memory controlling area called the hippocampus. Cortisol (a hormone that is released when stressed) has been linked to memory problems, when the hippocampus is damaged by cortisol, the region struggles to regulate the body’s stress system.

Also, there has been a link between diet and dementia. Often bad diets induce memory problems which increase the chance of developing dementia. Typically, when we are stressed, we let go of our general wellbeing, we eat too many high carb and fat foods and we certainly tend to overeat. Foods that have been linked to dementia include; white bread, pasta, white sugar, white flour, cheese, sausages, cold cut meat. Foods that are said to negatively impact stress; white sugar, white bread, pasta. Eating foods such as salmon and tuna, which are rich in omega-3, as well as lots of vegetables often, are said to help slow down conditions like dementia.

Everybody, no matter their age or health, can benefit so much from de-stressing regularly. It is thought even if you have the early stages of dementia; de-stressing and unwinding can ease the symptoms slightly and even improve focus and memory. Some of our favourite de-stressing activities are regularly posted on our social Media channels, click here to view them!




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