Chronic stress makes you feel awful—mentally, emotionally, and physically. It can even change the way your body manages stress, making it much harder to break free from the cycle of chronic stress.
The health effects of short- and long-term stress are well-known, but new research continues to show how far-reaching these effects can be. We know that stress takes a massive toll on your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral invaders, cancer cells and everything in between.
And these days, the last thing any of us need is a compromised, stress-damaged immune system.
The truth is, we can’t completely eliminate sources of stress from our lives. However, we can take healthy, proactive measures to help relax the mind and body—and in the long-run, become more resilient against the barrage of stressors that surround us.
Constant Stress Derails Good Health
Stress isn’t just a feeling—it’s a complex system of biochemical survival responses that help to keep you safe from danger. These “fight or flight” reactions can help you escape immediate, temporary threats. Their sole purpose is to help you survive by stimulating adrenaline and other hormones that boost your performance. When the danger passes, the system is supposed to calm down and turn off.
But what happens when we’re hit with constant stressors, like 24/7 bad news cycles, global health events, work stress and job security, and many others? This is when the effects of stress can be particularly damaging. Fight or flight stays on alert and never calms down.
Ironically, this is when “survival mode” transforms into its own health threat.
Physical effects of stress
Chronic stress is a huge threat to physical health.1 Do you ever notice how you feel sick when you’re stressed? Whether you experience headaches, GI issues, or even just fatigue—these are signs that your body is struggling with the biochemical effects of stress, which include:
- inflammation,2 triggered by master alarm protein, galectin-33
- muscle stiffness and pain4
- GI problems like pain, nausea, changes in eating habits, diarrhea, constipation5
- weight gain6
- immune imbalance7
Your immune system may be the most vulnerable to the effects of stress. When a stressful event, injury, illness or other stressors activate master alarm protein galectin-3, it triggers a cascade of inflammatory signals that can end up causing massive damage.
Chronic stress can throw off your immune system so much that, based on your underlying health, it can either trigger immune overreactions , or immune under-reactions.8 Immune overreactions can lead to a deadly cytokine storm, or a chronic autoimmune condition. On the other hand, if your immune system is suppressed due to stress and other factors, you may find yourself constantly fighting off even minor infections.
Cognitive Effects of Stress
Stress, whether chronic or acute, can make it harder to think clearly and remember important details. That’s because high levels of cortisol—the major stress hormone— can interfere with cognitive function.9
Chronic stress is directly linked to:
· inability to focus
· difficulty learning and retaining new information
· trouble adapting to change
· memory problems
There’s also strong correlation between chronic stress and Alzheimer’s disease.10
The good news is, there are a number of healthy stress relief strategies, including those listed below, that may offer some critical protection against Alzheimer’s, and other forms of cognitive decline.
Emotional effects of stress
Stress is a roller coaster for your emotions. And since stress triggers alarm protein galectin-3, it also sets off inflammation… including neuroinflammation in your brain. Neuroinflammation is linked to mood disorders like anxiety11 and depression.12
Important new research now shows clear links between galectin-3, depression, and even cognitive decline.13 These findings make blocking galectin-3 with modified citrus pectin—the only available galectin-3 inhibitor— a powerful strategy in managing cognitive health, mood, and other neuroinflammatory conditions.
The good news is, by taking steps to effectively cope with stress, you can not only feel better in your day-to-day life—you also protect your long-term health on a fundamental level.14,15
7 Ways to Naturally Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Coping with stress is hard work, and your brain and body need all the support they can get. With a combination of fast-acting relaxation strategies and long-term stress solutions, these approaches can help you manage whatever life throws at you.
Meditation: There are many different meditation methods and techniques, and there is no right or wrong way to practice. As a life-long meditation practitioner, I regularly offer free meditation classes, online tutorials, and workshops that offer practical meditation guidance suitable for all levels of experience. As you practice meditation over time, you’ll notice how much clearer and calmer your mind and emotions become. Regular meditation helps you improve stress responses while supporting numerous other areas of health.16
Nature: Research continues to show that spending time in nature helps your body and mind relax. Go for a hike in the woods, walk barefoot at the beach, or simply hang out in your garden. Even just ten minutes surrounded by nature can lower stress.17
Yoga: This ancient mind-body practice encourages relaxation for your body and a sense of inner peace. Practicing yoga several times per week can help improve your nervous system health, and reduce the negative impacts of stress.18
Diet: When you’re feeling down, you may crave “comfort foods” like sweets or salty, fried foods. While these items may satisfy in the moment, they can also cause inflammation and oxidative stress.19 Anti-inflammatory unprocessed foods, especially fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and other healthy protein sources, can defend your body against damaging stress.
Exercise: Physical activity helps reduce circulating levels of stress hormones. Even more noticeable, regular exercise releases endorphins, the “feel-good” brain chemicals that give you a natural mood boost after a good workout. Exercise also helps you respond better to stress.20
Supplements that Relieve and Defend Against Stress
Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP): Clinically proven modified citrus pectin (MCP) protects cells, tissues and organs against the effects of stress, by blocking galectin-3,21 the alarm protein that triggers inflammation, fibrosis, immune overreactions and more. Galectin-3 is directly related to many of the harmful effects associated with chronic stress. As a powerful natural binder, MCP also helps eliminate toxins that can stress your body and cause neuroinflammation.22 Importantly, by blocking galectin-3, MCP helps to prevent deadly cytokine storms that can happen when the inflammatory immune response goes overboard and attacks the body.
Pure Honokiol: One natural extract is shown through extensive research to offer remarkable support and protection for neurological health, stress and much more: Pure honokiol. This powerful compound is extracted from magnolia bark and crosses the blood-brain barrier to offer potent calming relief, without causing dependency. A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, honokiol has a broad-range of neurological and other health benefits and demonstrates specific support for brain health.
· reduces neuro-inflammation23
· offers natural anti-depressant support 24
· helps relieve anxiety
· demonstrates important benefits against Alzheimer’s25
· protects healthy cell function and behavior
Published data also shows that honokiol works synergistically with MCP, for even greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.26
Today, stress is a top health concern for a growing number of people worldwide. These natural stress management strategies can help you increase your resilience—while supporting the foundations of long-term wellness, naturally.
1. Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11:316.
2. Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11:316. Published 2017 Jun 20. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316.
3. Henderson NC, Sethi T. The regulation of inflammation by galectin-3. Immunol Rev. 2009 Jul;230(1):160-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2009.00794.x. PMID: 19594635.
4. Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic stress, cortisol dysfunction, and pain: a psychoneuroendocrine rationale for stress management in pain rehabilitation. Phys Ther. 2014;94(12):1816-1825.
5. Mayer Ea. The neurobiology of stress and gastrointestinal disease. Gut. 2000;47:861-869.
6. van der Valk ES, Savas M, van Rossum EFC. Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?. Curr Obes Rep. 2018;7(2):193-203. doi:10.1007/s13679-018-0306-y.
7. Morey JN, Boggero IA, Scott AB, Segerstrom SC. Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Curr Opin Psychol. 2015;5:13-17. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
8. Bae YS, Shin EC, Bae YS, Van Eden W. Editorial: Stress and Immunity. Front Immunol. 2019;10:245. Published 2019 Feb 14. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00245
9. Lupien SJ, Maheu F, Tu M, Fiocco A, Schramek TE. The effects of stress and stress hormones on human cognition: Implications for the field of brain and cognition. Brain Cogn. 2007 Dec;65(3):209-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2007.02.007. Epub 2007 Apr 26. PMID: 17466428.
10. Machado A, Herrera AJ, de Pablos RM, Espinosa-Oliva AM, Sarmiento M, Ayala A, Venero JL, Santiago M, Villarán RF, Delgado-Cortés MJ, Argüelles S, Cano J. Chronic stress as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Rev Neurosci. 2014;25(6):785-804.
11. DiSabato DJ, Nemeth DP, Liu X, Witcher KG, O’Neil SM, Oliver B, Bray CE, Sheridan JF, Godbout JP, Quan N. Interleukin-1 receptor on hippocampal neurons drives social withdrawal and cognitive deficits after chronic social stress. Mol Psychiatry. 2020 May 22. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-0788-3.
12. Slavich GM, Irwin MR. From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: a social signal transduction theory of depression. Psychol Bull. 2014 May;140(3):774-815.
13. Melin EO, Dereke J, Thunander M, Hillman M. Depression in type 1 diabetes was associated with high levels of circulating galectin-3. Endocr Connect. 2018 Jun;7(6):819-828. doi: 10.1530/EC-18-0108. Epub 2018 May 14. PMID: 29760188; PMCID: PMC6000756.
14. Herr RM, Barrech A, Riedel N, Gündel H, Angerer P, Li J. Long-Term Effectiveness of Stress Management at Work: Effects of the Changes in Perceived Stress Reactivity on Mental Health and Sleep Problems Seven Years Later. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(2):255.
15. Ghazavi Z, Rahimi E, Yazdani M, Afshar H. Effect of cognitive behavioral stress management program on psychosomatic patients’ quality of life. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(5):510-515.
16. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357-368.
17. Meredith GR, Rakow DA, Eldermire ERB, Madsen CG, Shelley SP, Sachs NA. Minimum Time Dose in Nature to Positively Impact the Mental Health of College-Aged Students, and How to Measure It: A Scoping Review. Front Psychol. 2020;10:2942. Published 2020 Jan 14.
18. Pascoe MC, Thompson DR, Ski CF. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Dec;86:152-168.
19. Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013;38(3):255-267.
20. Childs E, de Wit H. Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Front Physiol. 2014;5:161. Published 2014 May 1. doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00161
21. Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2619. Published 2019 Nov 1. doi:10.3390/nu11112619
22. Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification–five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14(6):358-64. doi: 10.1159/000109829. Epub 2007 Dec 12. PMID: 18219211.
23. Zhang B, Wang PP, Hu KL, Li LN, Yu X, Lu Y, Chang HS. Antidepressant-Like Effect and Mechanism of Action of Honokiol on the Mouse Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) Depression Model. Molecules. 2019 May 28;24(11):2035.
24. Xu Q, Yi LT, Pan Y, Wang X, Li YC, Li JM, Wang CP, Kong LD. Antidepressant-like effects of the mixture of honokiol and magnolol from the barks of Magnolia officinalis in stressed rodents. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Apr 1;32(3):715-25.
25. Woodbury A, Yu SP, Wei L, García P. Neuro-modulating effects of honokiol: a review. Front Neurol. 2013;4:130.
26. Ramachandran C, Wilk B, Melnick SJ, Eliaz I. Synergistic Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects between Modified Citrus Pectin and Honokiol. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:8379843.