Holistic approach to stress management
All stimuli challenging the body cause stress. If intense, it causes harm, pain and dis-ease. Even when it is not excessive, but rather repetitive, it causes an imbalance that we know as illness or injury.
The increasing contamination of our environment and food causes new kinds of stress with harmful effects on the body that are explained mostly by the increased production of free radicals. Oxidation processes that comprise the transition of a couple of electrons from one atom to another are normal in the body. On some occasions, a molecule with a weak link is broken which leads to an incomplete number of electrons in each part of the split molecule and these are called free radicals. Even as a normal part of its functioning, the immune system daily produces some free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria.
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that attack molecules crucial for cell function by capturing electrons and thus modifying chemical structures. They affect metabolism, hormonal activity, synthesis of genetic material and cell behavior. Free radicals disrupt patterns of electromagnetic energy in muscles and destroy the protective fats in the cell membrane, leading to fluid retention and accelerating the aging process. Many degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s are now linked to an excess of free radicals.
Although free radicals are a normal byproduct of cellular metabolism, an excess of such ions in response to electromagnetic fields or toxic chemicals might render the normal antioxidant defense system of the body insufficient and incapable of preventing the occurrence of disease.
Free radicals behave as spinsters whose only purpose in life is coupling up. The same way society produces a number of spinsters, free radical formation is a natural process that happens inside our bodies and that also occurs in foods when processed, when fried, roasted, cured by freezing or when irradiated.
Free radicals are very reactive and unstable and they try to steal other people’s couples (electrons) in order to form more stable compounds. A chain reaction is then created to form new free radicals. Usually, the body can cope but if there are not enough available antioxidants or if free radical generation is excessive, cells will be eventually harmed.
The damage caused by free radicals is cumulative.
Cell membranes serve a very important role in cell protection, transfer of information and in presenting surface molecules that, like IDs announce the body’s guards which type of cell they are and what their function is. When the lipids that make up the cellular membrane are oxidized by free radicals, communication among cells is interfered with and this manifests in a deficiency in the functionality, including the destruction of protective fats in the cell membrane and liquid retention. This, in turn, accelerates the aging process.
These harmful effects from free radicals are being researched as causal factors in diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s. Also being researched are the effects on the immune system. The body reacts to free radicals by trying to repair the damage, but even its repair and regeneration capacity could be compromised by such substances.
Degenerative and proliferative processes, including aging, are explained by the above-mentioned phenomenon known as cellular oxidation. If free radicals attack the molecules that participate in cellular reproduction, cells can become cancerous. They can also harm those cells responsible for removing the cholesterol from the blood which would allow the formation of plaques within arteries and cause coronary disease.
The same way that the human body is multidimensional, so is the Universe in which we live. Therefore, there are different kinds of stressors and their impact could manifest in one or more dimensions of our existence, as can be observed in table 1.
Table 1. Types of Stressors