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Every animal living on the planet has a survival system. This system is hardwired into a part of the brain referred to as the reptilian brain. This is considered to be the oldest part of the brain. Its function is to save your life, usually by getting you out of dangerous situations as quickly as possible. This part of your brain doesn’t take the time to think and analyse, nor does that even try to. It is filled with preprogrammed programs that get activated very rapidly to create very dramatic results. For instance, if a lion came charging into the room, you wouldn't sit and analyse the situation. Before you know it, you would be out the window and up a tree, and you wouldn't even recollect how you got there. This is your survival system in action.

Hormones travel at incredible speeds around the body. Just think how long it takes for the hairs to stand up on the back of your neck when you get a fright. That’s all controlled by hormones! Now, this is where it gets very interesting. The processes involved in getting you out the window and up the tree, involves the production of adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones (chemicals) are very active and have a huge impact within the body - they get things done quickly. For instance, in an emergency or a dangerous situation, the blood is shunted out to your muscles and away from your digestive system. You need energy in the muscles to be able to run and climb. You also need a lot more glucose in the blood to power the muscles, and your heart needs to beat faster, and often your blood pressure needs to rise to increase the speed of blood flow. But these effects are only ever meant to be short lived. When the danger is over, the idea is that the body removes these chemicals and everything goes back to normal. This is known as classic stress, or the 'fight or flight response'.

But let’s say you’re in a job where there is a lot of stress. Your boss has just come in and taken strips off you, for something that you did not do. You can’t run away, and the stress continues and the levels of adrenaline and Cortisol remains high. So, instead of experiencing these chemicals for just a few minutes, your body is now bathed in them for the whole day. Remember, the blood doesn’t go back to your digestive system when you’re stressed.

Can you now see the connection between eating problems and stress? If there isn’t a good blood flow running through your digestive system, then your digestive system is not going to function properly. Notice also the connection between high blood sugar, and the huge increase in diabetes. Notice the connection between high blood pressure and heart disease. And here’s the final kicker: when your body is in survival mode (i.e. responding to stress by producing a lot of adrenaline and cortisol) your brain gets switched off. This is a simple fact. Remember, the body is designed not to think if a lion comes running into the room. It is designed to act first, survive, and then think later. That is why it is practically impossible to think when you’re under stress, and why your mind may even go blank.

So what can you do about this? The good news is that there is a lot that you can do! Details on simple things that you can do with nutrition and by using stress release techniques will soon be available on this website.

 

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