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Reducing Allostatic Load using The Mind Body Link 1



Title: Understanding Allostatic Load: The Impact of Stress on Health


Stress is an inherent part of life. From deadlines at work to personal relationships, our bodies are constantly responding to various stressors. Our system can be seen as responding to stress like a spring responds to the stressors placed upon it.


While some stress can be beneficial, chronic or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on our health. Illhealth. One concept that helps us understand the cumulative impact of stress on health is allostatic load.


What is Allostatic Load?


Allostasis refers to the body's ability to maintain stability through change. (1) It's like the ability of a spring to stretch and respond to things that are happening and be OK.


In the body it involves adaptive processes that allow us to respond to stressors and maintain internal balance, or homeostasis.


Allostatic load, is the wear and tear on the body that accumulates when it is repeatedly exposed to stressors. This concept emphasizes that our bodies pay a price for chronic stress, both physically and psychologically. Illhealth, including postviral states in itself can add to the allostatic load. (2)(3)


There are different components of allostatic load impacting on various body systems (2). These include :


  1. Neuroendocrine System: Chronic stress can dysregulate hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are crucial for managing stress responses. Prolonged elevation of these hormones can impact on other systems in the body.

  2. Cardiovascular System: The constant activation of the body's stress response can increase blood pressure and heart rate, contributing to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

  3. Immune System: Stress weakens the immune system's ability to fight off pathogens, making individuals more susceptible to infections and inflammatory conditions.

  4. Metabolic System: Allostatic load can disrupt metabolic processes, leading to increasing the risk of issues like diabetes

  5. Brain Function: Chronic stress can impair cognitive function, memory, and emotional regulation and can predisposing individuals to mood disorders such as anxiety. Migraines and pain perception are also affected(4) Luckily for us the body has the capacity to heal - we can take proactive steps to reduce our allostatic load to increase our health. There are various resources for this on the blog and some examples are on the next blog post. (1) Allostatic Load and Its Impact on Health: A Systematic Review Allostatic Load and Its Impact on Health: A Systematic Review (2)Post-COVID dysautonomias: what we know and (mainly) what we don’https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-023-00917-9t know (3)Allostatic load is associated with chronic conditions in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Studyhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20381934/ (4) Understanding migraine through the lens of maladaptive stress responses: a model disease of allostatic loadhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22284178/


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