What is the Alarm Stage of Stress?
The alarm stage of stress is the initial stress response commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight stage of stress. The alarm stage of stress is an autonomic reaction produced by the HPA axis intended for survival and initiates tremendous demands on the nutrients in your body. The alarm stage of stress can be induced by a physical threat from within such as a bacterial or viral attack or from without by a perceived or real psychological threat or a physical attack.
Your emotions also affect your stress response and must be considered in stress management. Negative emotions such as hate, envy, fear, sadness, and anger can produce an unhealthy individual stress response. The frequency and duration of negative emotions can easily produce negative effects on your nutritional status.
The alarm stage of stress instantly produces psychophysiological changes. Your sympathetic neuroendocrine system takes over and in an instant; your body produces a flood of powerful stress hormones (i.e., adrenaline). You are now in the “fight-or-flight” mode.
Your pupils dilate; your digestive system slows, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure raises, your glucose levels rise, your strength increases, and myriad other sympathetic neuroendocrine changes transpire. All of these changes place tremendous demands on your nutritional biochemistry.
The alarm stage of stress is pro-inflammatory due to the excess production of aldosterone. Remaining in the alarm stage produces chronic inflammation and can result in a plethora of symptoms or manifestations.
Hair Analysis and the Alarm Stage of Stress
Hair analysis can reveal the alarm stage of stress. However, it is important to consider many patterns revealed on the results for proper interpretation. This includes toxic elements. On the graphic results, you will see an increased sodium level relative to potassium. Sodium, a stimulatory nutrient, increases by retention through a signaling system from the HPA axis to the adrenals that signal the kidneys to retain sodium.
As sodium increases, it becomes antagonistic toward magnesium (and many other nutrients) and begins to create a deficiency. Magnesium is a stress buffer and a sedative nutrient. This increases the sodium/magnesium ratio and decreases the calcium/potassium ratio.
Other mineral nutrients, through increased retention, utilization, or excretion include potassium, zinc, copper, cobalt, chromium, and selenium. These are both stimulatory and sedative nutrients alike.
A partial list of additional nutrients include vitamins C, D, E, B1, B6, and B12. Because of the dynamics of nutrient interrelationships where every essential nutrient depends on another (cofactors), these in turn, affect all amino acids.
For example, isoleucine, leucine, and valine are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and are more associated with the physical side of stress. Metabolically, they require vitamins B6 and B1. Next, they require copper and B2 derivatives as cofactors. Finally, biotin, magnesium, and alpha-ketoglutarate derived from glutamic acid are required for proper BCAA metabolism. The disruptions of direct and indirect nutrient relationships occur throughout all stages of stress.
Lysine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, cysteine, citrulline, and aspartic acid are the amino acids associated with mental or psychological stress. The metabolic functions of these amino acids are further disrupted by the demands placed on their vitamin and mineral cofactors during stress.
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Follow the Gazelle!
Nature provides an excellent example of how the stress response “should” unfold. You can follow the gazelle through each stage of stress. We picked the gazelle because we think most people have seen a nature show featuring the gazelle at the watering hole.
As the gazelle is at the watering hole drinking some water, the alligator makes a sudden lunge toward the gazelle. Instantly, the gazelle experiences the alarm stage of stress. This is known as the “fight-or-flight” stage of stress. Every survival system in our gazelle is engaged and it attempts to flee. If successful, our gazelle will move into the resistance stage of stress.
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