Insomnia, lack of focus or difficulties with concentration and digestive disturbances such as bloating, gas and loose stools are some of the symptoms that are caused by excessive stress. On the other hand, fatigue, lack of energy, accumulation of belly fat, cold hand and/or feet and dizziness can also be symptoms of stress. While these sets of symptoms may appear to be opposite to one another, the spectrum of varying levels of cortisol is often the underlying cause.
In an article that I recently published on-line titled "The Nature of Stress" I explored the relationship between the stress hormone cortisol and the way our bodies will physically and mentally react to both high and low cortisol (I recommend reading it first to give background to the informaiton below about the graph). Testing how cortisol levels are secreted throughout the day is recommended so that a personalized cortisol curve can be seen which represents adrenal function.
In the curve above, the green zone represents what is an average or "normal" level of cortisol over the course of a day. Ideally, the curve would fall in the middle as seen by the second line from the top. Those with high levels of cortisol may be at the top of the green zone in the morning, but also might stay high into the night. This would explain symptoms such as insomnia or constant "mind chatter". Others who have low energy and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and to go about their day, may follow the purple line in which the adrenals are not secreting enough cortisol. Once a curve is analyzed, treatment protocols can be developed to help raise cortisol levels at certain times of day or to quench levels when required. Length of treatment varies as it depends on the cortisol curve observed and symptoms that the individual is feeling. This is an area where naturopathic physicians are the experts as this type of testing and treatment is not available through medical doctors. Please read my original article by clicking here for more information. Remember - you don't have to go about life feeling tired and low energy all the time, there is a solution!
Sometimes headaches are due to food sensitivities
I am often asked about what it means to have a food sensitivity (or intolerance) versus a food allergy. It is important to distinguish between the two as allergies have more concerning symptoms that may require medical attention or hospitalization if ingested. The classic peanut response in a person who has a known allergy to peanuts can involve anaphylaxis and hence breathing difficulties, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or body and sometimes hives and itchiness. Those that are sensitive to gluten and eat a gluten-laced muffin may feel any number of symptoms and up to 3 days after eating the offending muffin. Bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes or eczema and joint aches can all be symptoms of a food sensitivity.
In the article written for a new health-related website called Healthy Directions, an excellent look at food allergies versus sensitivities is examined. It can be found here. Naturopathic doctors have the ability to diagnose both allergies and sensitivites as is mentioned in the article. The test is performed in-house and sent off to a lab usually the same day. Results are available within 1 week to 10 days and the road to recovery starts quickly. My personal journey with food sensitivities came with a diagnosis of multiple food sensitivites around 6 years ago. With a change in diet and proper supplementation, I am now back to eating most foods and feel great. Take a look at the article above and contact me using the contact form if you would like more information.