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Stress has become a nasty word. It conjures up images of something imminently snapping — like a bridge support or fragile person under immense forces and pressure.
But stress, in the appropriate amount and under the right architecture, can drive amazing mechanical systems. It can also be integral for the healthy functions of biological systems. In fact, stress has been an evolutionary driver of all living things.
Yet, stress has gotten a bad rap.
We also tend to think of stress hormones in negative terms, such as catabolism (i.e. muscle wastage) or belly fat. In reality, catabolism involves a breakdown of biological components to meet immediate needs — like protein for tissue repairs and hormones, and fat for energy.
Without these stress hormones we wouldn’t survive the demands of our environment. Stress hormones essentially keep us thriving by creating favorable conditions, such as increased cardiac output, vessel dilation, blood glucose, mental alertness, etc.
Stress hormones also regulate energy balance. For example, during intermittent fasting, catecholamines are released to create glucose or ketones from stored glycogen, protein and fat in order to meet the energy needs of the body. This energy regulation during the feed-fast cycle is as natural as the constriction and dilation of the eye’s pupils during light-dark cycles.
So, give stress hormones their due respect for keeping us thriving in demanding environment, as well as helping to create and maintain a healthy body-weight by the regulation of energy stores.
In the appropriate amount and under the right condition, stress hormones can be our friends.