I’m often asked: “If I can only do one thing, and one thing only to improve my health, what should I do?” My answer is always the same. This one simple thing drastically improves or cure almost all diseases plaguing the Western world today. It lowers blood pressure, improves type 2 diabetes and arthritis, prevents stroke and heart attack, and may completely eliminate ED in men.
And best of all, it doesn’t cost you a dime and is extremely pleasurable.
Now, you may tell me that you are not stressed at all. And I’ll reply that you’re wrong.
Or you could say that yes, there is stress but you can’t get rid of those factors that are causing it. And I’ll tell you, these factors are irrelevant to how stress affects your health.
You see, a stress reaction is nothing else than an overload of stress hormones in your body. Cortisol and adrenaline are the best known of these devils, but other hormones also play a key role.
So there may not be any major stress in your life, but if you live close to a highway, get the flu, run a marathon (or other intense exercises), or even watch a thriller on TV, your stress hormone level is going to spike.
And even if you’re under a huge amount of stress, in a simple way you can guide your body to lower your stress hormone level, even with those stress factors in place.
I’ll explain this clearly in a second but first; how does stress affect your health?
There are four types of stress you’re faced with:
1) Emotional Stress – the most prevalent sources are divorce and the death of a loved one.
2) Mental Stress – when faced with difficult mental tasks. Playing chess or Sudoku are mild versions of mental stress.
3) Sensory Stress – Living near a feed lot (smells) or a railroad crossing (noise).
4) Physical Stress – working out or having high blood pressure are types of physical stress that spike your stress hormone level. Eating unhealthy food that causes inflammation in your body also leads to physical stress.
Moderate amounts of stress are essential for our health. When we workout, our bodies release adrenaline that boosts our nervous system. Afterward, we relax and the adrenaline quickly drops.
But when you’re under a longer period of stress, like working long hours for a few weeks, your mind orders the release of cortisol. This is the long-term stress hormone and the effects are devastating.
Since cortisol is supposed to be used to deal with things like starvation or long-lasting attacks by predators, it triggers our fight-or-flight response.
Any function that is not absolutely essential in the moment is shut down so that your body can either survive on the least amount of energy, fight a threat, or run away.
One thing that gets drastically reduced is blood flow to the brain. The brain usually takes 25-40% of all your blood but your rational thinking is not needed to fight a predator. This is the reason that long-term stress is believed to cause Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
The deadliest of all diseases caused by stress is, of course, high blood pressure. Having chronic, dramatic spikes in blood pressure almost unavoidably leads to either stroke or heart attack.
Here’s the good news:
It’s relatively easy to reduce the amount of cortisol in your body. You see, your own brain is the organ that orders the release of stress hormones. Nothing else. Therefore, your brain can stop its release on the spot. All you have to do is ask it to (nicely).
The release of cortisol comes from the oldest, most primal part of your brain. It reacts to a real or imaginary threat that you’re under. The roar of a lion or a roar of a Jeep Wrangler are going to be processed in a very similar way.
The good news is that your logical brain is the chief in command. The primal brain will at least somewhat obey its commands. So if you consciously think and act in a way a relaxed animal/person would do, your stress hormone level will go down.
One thing to keep in mind is that cortisol takes a while to leave your body. You’ll therefore probably not experience great improvements until after at least 24 hours. And since habits are hard to kill, we’re most likely talking a few days or weeks to cure any disease permanently.