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Chronic stress is a state of ongoing physiological arousal. This occurs when the body experiences so many stressors that the autonomic nervous system, which helps one adapt to changes in the environment, rarely has a chance to activate the relaxation response. This type of chronic stress response occurs all too frequently from a modern lifestyle, when everything from high-pressured jobs to loneliness to busy traffic can keep the body in a state of perceived threat and chronic stress. In this case, our fight-or-flight response can wear down our bodies and cause us to become ill, either physically or emotionally.
A stressful lifestyle can lead to consistently high levels of cortisol, and low levels of the hormone DHEA (dehydoepiandosterone), which can be damaging to the brain and other tissues. Cortisol (a stress hormone) elevation also impacts immune responses, such as secretory IgA (sIgA) and anti-gliadin antibody (AGA) production. SIgA, part of the first line of immune defense against pathological microorganisms and food antigens in the lining of the gut, decreases during stress. AGA is elevated in people with gliadin intolerance and celiac disease, which affect about 12-14% of the US population. When immune defenses in the gut are diminished by stress, gut permeability increases as does the amount of AGA in the bloodstream.
The Adrenal Stress Profiles use a non-invasive salivary procedure to monitor the activity of the adrenal cortex and its ability to react to stress. The procedure monitors the rhythmic biological cycles recurring at 24-hour intervals of cortisol and DHEA-S levels.
When the Adrenal Stress Profile indicates an inappropriate hormonal stress response, it is necessary to consider stress reduction through diet and lifestyle modification, and nutritional supplementation to support adrenal gland activity and enhance the restoration of the physical barrier in the gut.