Are you always stressed? Do you think being chronically stressed can affect aging?
In short, yes! Chronic stress can absolutely affect aging. Stress does more than just make a person feel worn out; people exposed to chronic stress can age more rapidly. A wide range of studies has shown that stress caused by untreated depression and anxiety attacks, for example, speed up the aging process.
The stress response is an adaptive mechanism that allows mobilizing all the resources of the body to fight a temporary threat. When the process becomes chronic, the stress associated with adaptive mechanisms becomes destructive.
Stress can add years to the age of your immune system cells, cause changes to the proteins in your skin (reducing its elasticity), and shorten DNA strands. Leveraging lifestyle changes along with natural supplements can help you take control of your stress and ease into aging gracefully.
Can You Reverse Aging From Stress?
With short-term stress, there is always some reversibility. But the longer a person is under stress, the more permanent the physical signs of aging can become. The effects of stress are cumulative, so the sooner a person is able to understand and manage how the body reacts to stress the better it is for his or her overall health.
When you’re stressed, your body responds with the fight-or-flight syndrome, an acute stress response launched by the body’s excitatory neurotransmitters. These sudden bursts of stress chemicals and hormones are designed to last only moments, long enough to fight or flee and survive a threatening scenario.
Why Do We Need to Fight Stress?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that literally calms down frazzled, over-excited nerves. It is the most potent brain chemical found in our central nervous system and is critical for counter-balancing excitatory neurotransmitters (like dopamine, norepinephrine, and glutamate). A mismatch between glutamate and GABA is where L-theanine comes into the picture.
L-Theanine has been studied extensively for its ability to reduce the uptake of the excitatory amino acid glutamate and regulate how much dopamine and norepinephrine are excreted. Because it supports GABA activity and promotes the release of serotonin and dopamine, L-theanine is a solid choice when looking for a well-rounded supplement to support calming your neurotransmitters.
How Can You Manage My Stress?
There are some steps you can take to control stress and the effects it has on your skin, most of which you have likely heard before: engage in a hobby, watch funny movies, exercise to ease your stress and improve circulation and eat high antioxidant foods like fruit and vegetables.
Mindfulness meditation can also reduce stress and alter molecular changes at a genetic level. Interestingly, one of L-theanine’s attributes is that it alters the brainwave state similar to what is experienced through meditation.
Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is excellent for stress and anxiety but half of Americans are deficient. Magnesium binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain.
We love using GABAahhh Soothing Cream because it corrects both GABA and magnesium deficiency, plus it includes all the therapeutic benefits of L-theanine.
Is a Topical Cream Better Than a Pill?
When it comes to supporting our neurotransmitters naturally, a topical application has several benefits!
- Ease of use application in stressful situations as a less obvious lotion rather than a tablet form
- Fast response when anxiety can lead to panic attacks
- Lower dosing to avoid first pass through the liver
- Increased therapeutic availability in patients with disrupted gut function and poor absorption
The skin is an effective way to increase magnesium levels and bypass using the gut – this is especially beneficial for people with IBS (or leaky gut) who suffer from malabsorption of nutrients. Magnesium chloride is a form of magnesium that can lower anxiety, reduce pain, and help promote restful sleep. Not only is magnesium chloride an effective antimicrobial treatment when given topically, it also delivers magnesium directly into the bloodstream.
Additionally, when GABA is taken orally, GABA levels in the brain do not increase, presumably because the substance itself cannot pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system. For this reason, oral GABA supplements cannot replicate the effect of tranquilizing drugs well.
If you want to develop a comprehensive wellness plan that can help you control stress and mitigate its long-term effects, consider partnering with Integrative Psychiatry’s Director of Education, Dave Scheiderer.