Epigenetics: Stress In Relation To Chronic Disease
The term allostatic load refers to any type of stress occurring in the body for long periods of time. Types of stress we encounter daily from environmental stress or psychological stress have the ability to alter the way our body operates. Stress is directly linked to causing inflammation. Inflammation throughout the body leads to insulin resistance, leaky gut, rheumatoid arthritis, and essentially all chronic diseases.
When patients come to us with symptoms, they present with a collection of signs. Although these signs and symptoms may have started to present themselves in the last few months, the inflammation and allostatic load have been building up inside their bodies for years. There are deep interconnections throughout the entire body, no one system operates alone. This is to be heavily considered when creating a treatment plan for someone with a heavy allostatic load. One of the reasons inflammation gets so bad is because when a stressor is present in the body, the body has to respond. The body does not ignore these stressors and when there becomes a surplus the body is constantly firing, eventually leading up to autoimmune diseases.
There is no one stressor that is more important than the other. These stressors impact individuals differently thus creating an equal allostatic load. Stressors include:
- Nutrient Imbalance
When these stressors are present and coupled with genetic polymorphisms or epigenetics we see chronic issues arise. There is no one chronic issue that is caused by a specific trigger, but rather how your genes are being expressed to the trigger presented. More commonly, the chronic health conditions we see from stressors and epigenetics are IBS, Fatigue, Leaky Gut, Pain, Weight, Thyroid, Inflammation, Autoimmune, Depression, and Insulin Resistance.
We see now that genetic expression is connected to environmental factors. Our genes are constantly expressing and the ability of them to express and thrive depends on the environment we surround them with. By surrounds the genes with foods that specifically code anti-inflammatory markers, you will see a reduction of inflammation by making necessary dietary changes. We use a test by DNA Life called DNA Diet to assess the genes you have and what diets will aid your genes in anti-inflammatory expression, ultimately lowering your risk of overall disease. An example is shown below:
Another highly important marker we look at is the neurology side of the allostatic load. The nervous system is more than signals from the spine to the brain. Rather, the nervous system is incorporated into almost every other body system. Additionally, neurotransmitters are responsible for establishing mood with the production of serotonin. Serotonin is primarily housed in the gastrointestinal tract, relating back to the importance of surrounding our genes with proper nutrients for optimal functioning. There is a close inner-relationship between the nervous system, gene expression, and overall disease risk. Macronutrients are the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates we feed our bodies. With a nutrient imbalance, we see a significant break down of protein. This increases enzymes and in response, the body does not create as much serotonin or melatonin. Thus, leading to less relaxation, more stress felt by the nervous system, and inflammatory cytokines being produced. A test we use to measure neurotransmitters is from Labrix. A sample is shown below:
Using chiropractic care along with all-natural treatment plans will reduce the allostatic load in ones body. Chiropractic works by adjusting the joints to ensure smooth fluidity. With the joints sitting in line where they need to be there is a reduction of pressure on both nerves and muscles, allowing the nervous system to reset and become in sync with itself again. By regular adjustments, feeing the genes properly, working with a practitioner to determine your allostatic stress load and practicing other relaxation techniques, inflammation levels will decrease.
Inflammation has been proven time and time again to be heavily associated with nutrition and chronic illness. We need to help others understand that everything we feel and how we express our genes impacts our future greatly. By feeding not only ourselves but our children healthy organic foods we are decreasing inflammation and reducing everyone’s risk for developing a chronic disease. A good trick I use is to only shop the outside lining of the grocery store and avoid aisles! Most of the pre-packaged chemical foods are within the aisles of the stores, but if you stick to the outside, you’ll find mostly organic fresh produce and grass-fed meats to create healthy meals and snacks from. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Moss, Jeffrey. “Demystifying Chronic Illness: Allostatic Load as a Unified Model of Chronic Illness.” Functional Medicine University. 2020, www. Functionalmedicineuniversity. com/members/1042.cfm.
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