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“An estimated sixty to ninety percent of doctor visits involve stress-related complaints.” It just may be that the common denominator for disease is the mismanagement of stress. In Finland where the unemployment rate between 1991 and 1993 nearly tripled, the mortality rate for cardiovascular deaths doubled amongst those affected by the downsizing as compared to those still employed.

The classic fight or flight response causes physiological changes within the body. The heart rate, respiration and blood pressure all increase while digestive enzymes and immune chemistry decrease.

To meet the physiological energy needs of stress, the body speeds delivery of oxygen, nutrients and glucose to energy burning muscles. The increase of glucose along with fatty acids does several things. First, it puts a greater demand upon glucose needs causing the liver to burn its reserve and thus calling for greater simple carbohydrate intake. Second, our other energy supplier, fatty acids, also travel to the energy consuming muscles, thus filling our blood stream with fats. Lastly, the hormones of stress—cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc.—all maintain our vigil and therefore establish an ambient level of constant stress hormone release.

What research has shown is that stress is cumulative—that is, we do not reset to zero after each occurrence but continue to retain a new stress set point thus perpetuating all of the above imbalances.

By looking at the above scenario it is easy to see the causative aspects of stress as it affects diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity.