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7 Health Conditions Caused By Stress

7 Health Conditions Caused By Stress

Stress is a natural part of life. Everyone experiences it at one time or another. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Harvard University-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-NPR found that 49% of adults reported having a major stressful event or experience in the past year. In addition, more than 4 in 10 (43%) adults report stressful events and negative experiences related to health.

Many people who experience stress try to cope with it through eating, drinking, smoking, and even taking drugs. People who are stressed typically get less sleep and exercise less. These are all activities that can negatively impact health. However, recent studies have been discovering that there is a lot more to the way that stress impacts our health.

Our bodies react to stress by pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. This focuses the mind and body creating an immediate reaction. This response has helped humans survive throughout generations. Unfortunately, this rush of adrenaline due to stress can also create health risks. In addition, the more significant risk is because of the cortisol increase.

Cortisol has many good functions, like reducing inflammation, but is not meant to be constantly released. The constant release of cortisone causes cells to be desensitized to the hormone. This can allow inflammation to go crazy. Chronic inflammation over the long-term can damage blood vessels and brain cells. It can also lead to insulin resistance (a precursor of diabetes) and promote extremely painful joint diseases.

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Here are 7 health conditions caused by stress:

1. The Common Cold

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    In a shocking 2012 study 276 healthy adults were interviewed about stressful events in their lives and then exposed to the cold virus. The people who were experiencing chronic stress were cortisol resistant and more likely to get sick. The study showed that when under continuous stress, cells in the immune system are unable to respond properly to the cold virus. They produce levels of inflammation that lead to disease.

    2. Increased Weight Gain

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    Overweight

      The stress hormones stimulate a craving for foods full of sugar, starch, and fat. This is the reason you are more likely to want a candy bar after a stressful day. However, new research shows the link between stress and weight gain is a lot more complex than just bad food choices. For example, in one study women who had one or more stressful events during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories in the seven hours following a fast-food meal than women who ate a similar meal but were stress-free. 104 calories may not seem like a lot, but it can actually add up to 11 extra pounds per year.

      In addition to creating changes in metabolism, stress also produces a rise in insulin levels and a decrease in fat oxidation. This process promotes fat storage. Other studies have shown a correlation between excess cortisol and increased abdominal fat.

      3. Sleep Issues

      Sleeping Issues

        As we get older we experience natural decreases in the amount of deep sleep we get and an increase in nighttime wakefulness. Stress can aggravate these sleep deficits and make it harder to go back to sleep after you awaken in the night. Sleep deprivation can impair memory and hurt emotional control. A lack of sleep also makes it harder to handle daily stress. Cortisol levels keep people awake at night and then our brains respond by making us think about or problems. Lack of sleep also leads to dental problems & then you can’t escape from painful dental implants.

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        4. Heart Disease

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          The link between long-term stress and heart attacks has been well known for years. A recent study made the reasons behind this clearer. In the study, Matthias Nahrendorf, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, discovered that blood samples from people with high levels of stress had a surplus of white blood cells. Cortisol changes the texture of white blood cells making them attach themselves to blood vessel walls. This creates plaque, a key marker of heart disease. The Harvard Medical School study found that a surplus of white blood cells caused hardening in the arteries of stressed but otherwise healthy mice. Taking a DNA test can also tell you if stress puts you at greater risk for heart disease.

          5. Depression

          Depressed woman

            Stress plays a role in depression and brain health. Depression can be triggered by stressful episodes and then take on a life of its own. Stress makes many brain neurotransmitter systems, like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, become out of balance. This causes issues with mood, sleep appetite, and libido. Many severely depressed people have elevated cortisol levels. This can permanently damage brain cells.

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            6. Ulcers and Stomach Issues

            Stomach pain

              Over the last 50 years, doctors have attributed stomach ulcers to stress. It wasn’t until 1983 that researchers found that ulcers are caused by the bacteria H. pylori. However, 15% of stomach ulcers actually occur in people who do not have the bacteria. Also, only about 10% of people infected with the bacteria get ulcers. One theory is that the effect of chronic stress on the immune system lets the H. pylori bacteria thrive. Another theory is that exposure to stress changes the balance of bacteria in the gut allowing harmful bacteria to have the upper hand. This means that ulcers are ultimately the result of stress. Stress is also a critical factor in irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, heartburn, and Crohn’s disease.

              7. Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain

                Neck, shoulder, and back pain are among the most common and costly health complaints. Stress alone does not create this pain; however, stress can intensify the severity and duration of the pain. Musculoskeletal pain is particularly increased by workplace stress. Researchers aren’t sure why this occurs. However, people with stressful jobs report more back, neck and shoulder pain. The theory is that stress-induced inflammation prevents the full healing power to make the pain decrease.

                In case you are facing any of these above symptoms, you should see a doctor. If you are a busy individual juggling family and work pressures, online doctor services might be a good alternative to seeing a doctor physically. These kinds of services allow you to see a doctor at your own convenience.

                Featured photo credit: pressfoto via freepik.com

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                Last Updated on July 11, 2019

                10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind

                10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind

                If you have watched movies like Limitless[1] (both the movie and television series) and Lucy,[2] then you have likely come across smart drugs or nootropics. In the movie Limitless, you are introduced to NZT-48 (known as MDT-48 in the book The Dark Fields), which grants heightened intellectual abilities allowing one to pattern-match at lighting speed.

                In the movie Lucy, you are introduced to the drug CPH4, which is actually based on a molecule that a pregnant woman produces after six weeks of pregnancy. The director of Lucy, Luc Besson, remarked,[3]

                “But it’s totally real, and it’s true that the power of this product for a baby is the power of an atomic bomb. It’s real. It’s totally real. So its not a drug in fact, it’s a natural molecule that pregnant women produce.”

                NZT-48 is fictional and CPH4 is a fictional drug based on a real substance. So, are there any real life smart drugs or brain boosters similar to either fictional drug? The answer is no. But powerful cognitive enhancing drugs do exist. And they are Nootropics.

                Nootropics

                Nootropics was coined by Romanian psychologist Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1972. The etymology of the word is nous or mind and trepein or to bend.[4] According to Smart Drug Smarts, nootropics is an umbrella term for a class of chemicals, some naturally-occurring and some man-made, that give cognitive benefits to the human brain. To be a nootropic, Giurgea found that the substance must meet five specific criteria:[5]

                1. Enhance memory and ability to learn.
                2. Help the brain function under disruptive conditions.
                3. Protect the brain from chemical and physical assaults.
                4. Increase the efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms.
                5. Possess few or no side effects and be virtually non-toxic.

                Let’s now examine the 10 best brain power supplements that will supercharge your mind and 4 bonus tips (in no particular order – meaning #1 is not better than #2 nor #10). Very few of the brain boosters listed can be purchased in a local brick and mortar store.

                For most, you will have to place an order online. However, be extremely cautious and diligently research each prior to ordering.

                For a more detailed breakdown of each brain booster in the form of a wiki, I recommend visiting the website BrainTropic[6]. I will provide a summary for each smart drug below. Summaries will be from BrainTropic unless otherwise stated. In addition, visit my website (you can find the link in my bio) as I regularly write and provide advice on nootropics.

                *Some of the supplements listed require a prescription and could be harmful. Consult with your doctor before consumption.

                1. Qualia Mind

                Qualia Mind is an extremely powerful smart drug created by Neurohacker packed with a variety of nootropics. It is a multi-nootropic leading to potential neurochemical and physiological enhancements.

                Qualia Mind is specifically designed to lift brain fog, amplify willpower, upgrade energy, heighten creativity, and promote mental clarity. No prescription is required.

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                Side effects: headaches, sleep disturbance, muscle tightness, and upset stomach.

                Summary
                • Type: Multi-Nootropic (crucial ingredients include: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Taurine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Citicoline, Anhydrous Caffeine, Huperzine A, and more)
                • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
                • Typical Dose: 7 capsules per day (maximum of 12)
                • Half-life: 4-6 hours

                You can learn more about Qualia Mind in Neurohacker.

                2. Modafinil

                Modafinil is a stimulant to treat narcolepsy and has been shown to enhance our cognitive functions. Sold under the names Vigil, Nuvigil or Provigil, has became one of the most popular cognitive enhancing drugs on the market.

                Bio-hacker and founder of Bulletproof Coffee, Dave Asprey, is just one of many advocating the drug. Some think Modafinil inspired the movie Limitless. For more on this discussion, read I Spent a Week on Nuvigil, the Drug From ‘Limitless’ and Modafinil: My Experience with the Real Life Limitless Pill by Joen Rude Falsner. Falsner remarked about Modafinil, it’s “Sort of like a real life pop-up blocker…”

                In the US, Modafinil is classified as Schedule IV Controlled Substance and a prescription is required for it. Potential side effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

                Bonus Tip: Top Modafinil researchers have found that Modafinil combined with coffee can create a powerful combination.[7]

                Summary
                • Type: Stimulant
                • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
                • Typical Dose: 50-200mg
                • Half-life: 15 hours

                3. Adrafinil

                Adrafinil is a stimulant that can increase energy and prevent fatigue. It is metabolized and converted into Modafinil. In fact, the effects are similar to Modafinil; however, it is not as strong. No prescription is required for Adrafinil in the US, Canada, or the UK.

                Potential side effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

                Summary
                • Type: Stimulant
                • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
                • Typical Dose: 150-600mg
                • Half-life: 1 hour

                4. Noopept

                According to braintropic.com, Noopept is a powerful synthetic nootropic with cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective properties. It was developed in Russia in the mid-1990s and is used as a prescription treatment for cognitive impairments. Researchers found that, in animal studies, Noopept has been shown to stimulate the expression of two chemicals: Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).[8]

                Potential side effects: headaches, restlessness, dizziness, and irritability.

                Summary
                • Type: Peptide
                • Good for: Anxiety, Energy, Focus, Learning and Memory
                • Typical Dose: 10-20 mg
                • Half-life: 30-60 minutes

                5. Adderall

                Adderall is a stimulant used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall primarily increases the release to two specific neurotransmitters involved with ADHD: dopamine and norepinephrine.

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                For an interesting read on what Adderall does to the brain – to include a good discussion of the benefits and side effects of the drug – read What adderall does to your brain by Daniela Hernandez. Similar to Modafinil, some think the movie Limitless was inspired by Adderall.

                For more on this discussion, read Limitless: The Brain-Doping Movie We All Know Was Inspired by Adderall and The Drug From Limitless Is Available for Purchase on Your College Campus.

                Adderall is considered a Schedule II Controlled Substance and a prescription is required for it. This means anyone caught in possession of it without a prescription could face criminal charges. Potential side effects: irregular heartbeat, paranoia, headaches, restlessness, dizziness, lack of appetite, high risk of dependency, and irritability.

                Summary[9]
                • Type: Stimulant
                • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
                • Typical Dose: 5-40 mg (Adderall XR is 5-60 mg)
                • Half-life: 4-6 hours (Adderall XR is 6-8 hours)

                6. Oxiracetam

                Oxiracetam was developed in the 1970s and is a synthetic derivative of the original nootropic – Piracetam. However, according to braintropic.com, Oxiracetam is more potent than Piracetam. Oxiracetam has been studied for treatment with those suffering from Alzheimer’s or memory.[10] No prescription is required for Oxiracetam.

                Potential side effects: no serious side effects – the most commonly reported side effect is headache.

                Summary
                • Type: Ampakine and Racetam
                • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning and Memory
                • Typical Dose: 400-2400 mg
                • Half-life: 8 hours

                7. Bulletproof Coffee

                Dave Asprey (also an advocate for Modafinil) is the creator of Bulletproof Coffee. Asprey contends that Bulletproof Coffee is clean and tested for toxins.

                However, when you first read about Bulletproof Coffee, you hear about the combination of Butter – Oil – Coffee. That can’t be a good combination, right?

                Wrong. It is.

                Bulletproof Coffee has been found to help with weight loss, boost cognitive functioning, maintain mental clarity, and decrease brain fog. For more on Bulletproof Coffee, read What It’s Like To Drink Bulletproof Coffee Every Morning For Two Weeks by Chris Gayomali. Potential side effects: restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and rapid heart rate.

                Summary[11]
                • Type: Stimulant
                • Good for: Mental Clarity, Decrease Brain Fog, and Weight Loss
                • Typical Dose: Varies by type of coffee (e.g. Coffee Pods or Brew)
                • Half-life: Varies

                8. Cellucor C4 Ultimate

                Cellucor C4 Ultimate is a powerful pre workout supplement. It provides an instant cognitive boost so that you can not only get the most out of your exercise training sessions, but also maximize your ability to learn (even during exercise).

                C4 Ultimate should be consumed 20-30 minutes prior to training. No prescription is required for C4 Ultimate.

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                Potential side effects: insomnia, diarrhea, dehydration, headaches, high blood pressure, and tingly or prickly sensations. To counter these side effects, read Pre-Workout Supplements: 6 Side Effects and How To Avoid Them by Matt Weik.

                Summary[12]
                • Type: Pre Workout (crucial ingredients include: Vitamin C, Vitamins B6 and B12, Niacin, Citrulline Malate, Caffeine Anhydrous, Taurine, Beta-Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, and N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine)
                • Good for: Energy, Pumps, Endurance, and Physical Performance
                • Typical Dose: 1 scoop with water
                • Half-life: Varies

                You can get Cellucor C4 Ultimate at Cellucor.

                9. Piracetam

                Piracetam is the first synthetic smart drug developed and is the compound that inspired the term nootropic. It was invented by the same individual who coined the term nootropic – Dr. Giurgea.

                According to Brain Tropic, Piracetam works by improving blood flow in the brain, boosts the production of crucial brain chemicals, and increases synaptic plasticity.[13] It requires a prescription in the UK and Australia and cannot be legally marketed in the US as a dietary supplement.

                Potential side effects: no serious side effects – the most commonly reported side effect is headache.

                Summary
                • Type: Ampakine and Racetam
                • Good for: Learning and Memory
                • Typical Dose: 1600-4800 mg
                • Half-life: 4-5 hours

                10. Qualia Focus

                Qualia Focus is another product offered by Neurohacker. It too is a multi-nootropic with powerful cognitive enhancements. While it is not as strong as Qualia Mind, it still upgrades your energy, heightens creativity, and promotes mental clarity at a lower cost than Qualia Mind. No prescription is required.

                Side effects: headaches, sleep disturbance, muscle tightness, and upset stomach.

                Summary
                • Type: Multi-Nootropic (crucial ingredients include: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Taurine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Citicoline, Coffeeberry Energy, Ginko Biloba Leaf Extract, Huperzine A, and more)
                • Good for: Focus and Concentration, Memory, and Energy
                • Typical Dose: 5 capsules per day (maximum of 9)
                • Half-life: 4-6 hours

                You can learn more about Qualia Focus in Neurohacker.

                While the brain boosters listed above are not the smart drugs in Limitless or Lucy, they still provide you phenomenal results. To find out which of the 10 are the best for you, I suggest you do the following:

                1. Research each one diligently
                2. Test them out for yourself
                3. Try the following Bonus Tips along with your brain booster. In doing so, you will discover a pop-up blocker for your brain!

                Bonus Tips

                1. Take antacids to increase potency

                To increase the potency of a brain booster, ingest alkaline substances like antacids such as Tums or Alka-Seltzer. Read A Brief Guide to Non-medical Psychostimulant Use for more information.

                You should consult with your doctor as there could be serious side effects.

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                2. Take on an empty stomach

                You should take your brain booster on an empty stomach as this will further potentiate both the duration and effect of the drug. The exceptions are Qualia Mind and Focus. I recommend taking both with food as this will cause an upset stomach.

                However, you should consult with your doctor prior to taking any of the brain boosters listed and to identify the proper way to take each.

                3. Adderall alarm clock

                There is an interesting definition in the crowd-sourced online dictionary Urban Dictionary:[14]

                The Adderall Alarm Clock is defined as setting an alarm for an hour before you have to get up; upon waking, roll over and take your prescription stimulant of choice and go back to sleep. In about an hour, you wake up naturally with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

                This actually works. Choose one of your brain boosters and try this out.

                However, you should consult with your doctor prior to attempting this as there could be serious side effects.

                4. Exercise sparks neurogenesis

                Exercise alone will provide similar benefits and could be substituted for any of the brain boosters listed. Exercise plus brain boosters provide even more cognitive enhancing benefits.

                One of the most powerful benefits exercise provides is that it sparks the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which brings about neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain.[15]

                Dr. John Ratey discusses both neurogenesis and BDNF at length in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Ratey dubbed BDNF the master molecule and refers to it as “Miracle-Gro for the brain”. Linda Gabriel writes about BDNF in BDNF – Miracle-Gro for the Brain, “BDNF binds to receptors in the synapses between neurons, increasing voltage (yes your brain is electric!), and improving signal strength.”

                Featured photo credit: Josh Riemer via unsplash.com

                Reference

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