These 10 “secret” stressors are wreaking havoc on your body
03/20/2020 // Zoey Sky // Views

Stress affects more than your mental state. If left unchecked, various stressors can also affect your physical health. If you're not sure what's negatively affecting your mood, below are 10 possible stressors that you may need to address.

Stress and your overall well-being

Sometimes, people have unknown stressors that may be causing conditions such as poor digestion, a weakened immune system or even psychological distress.

Sarah Fragoso, the bestselling author and founder of Everyday Paleo, and Brooke Kalanick, a functional medicine expert and naturopathic doctor, discuss some stressors that could be affecting your health in their new book, "Hangry."

If some of the 10 stressors detailed below are affecting your overall health, you can address them by taking certain nutrients and supplements.

Blood sugar swings

A blood sugar regulation problem can be stressful, especially since it causes symptoms like carb cravings, forgetfulness, irritability or trouble falling or staying asleep.

Insulin and cortisol are at odds as these hormones try to balance your blood sugar swings. The constant high-to-low cortisol and insulin compensation may stress you out as your blood sugar goes up and down, which keeps triggering cortisol production in your body.

You might also feel "hangry," or angry and hungry, if you've gone too long without eating or if you didn't eat healthy and filling foods in your previous meal. Being hangry can cause you to overeat unhealthy foods during your next meal.

Oxidative stress

The human body has trillions of mitochondria that use at least 90 percent of the oxygen you breathe. These organelles are the powerhouses of your cells and are the sites of metabolism. The mitochondria process food and oxygen into energy.


The mitochondria are amazing, but they're very sensitive to damage caused by oxidative stress. This damage is caused by free radicals, which can come from various sources, such as allergens, exposure to toxins, infections, a diet rich in bad fats and blood sugar swings. Damage to your mitochondria can make your metabolism shut down.

To keep your mitochondria healthy, you need to eat different kinds of brightly colored vegetables. Exercise regularly and try strength training to help your body produce new and healthy mitochondria. (Related: Natural remedies that defeat chronic stress and support adrenal health.)


Dehydration is a common stressor for people who:

  • Have adrenal or cortisol issues
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Deal with insulin resistance
  • Work out and sweat regularly

Staying hydrated is crucial for your overall health. To avoid this stressor, drink lots of water regularly or take electrolyte supplements. Consume at least two to three liters of water daily.


Inflammation can mess up your hormones. Excessive inflammation significantly creates a stress burden on all of your hormonal systems.

Inflammation makes it harder for hormones to bind to their specific receptor sites and create an effect inside a particular cell. Inflammation may also interrupt signals from the brain all the way to the gland, which can change the entire hormonal cascade and result in a widespread disturbance.

If you're experiencing hormonal deficiency symptoms but have normal hormone levels according to your blood work, get your inflammation tested.

Poor oxygen delivery

Without sufficient oxygen, you'll feel cold and tired and look pale. It can also affect every tissue in your body.

Some of the most common causes of low oxygen are deficiencies in nutrients like iron and key B-vitamins like B6, B12 and folate (vitamin B9).

Nutrient deficiencies

Your body needs enough nutrients, which include both macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), for it to function properly. Even if you're following a balanced diet, you can still suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.

Consume at least 100 g of protein and a pound of vegetables daily to prevent deficiencies.

Essential fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids burn up quickly when you're constantly stressed or inflamed. Essential fatty acids help modulate your immune system and inflammatory response.

Eat at least 12 to 16 ounces of cold-water fish, like mackerel or salmon, or shellfish weekly. You can also supplement with one to two grams of a high-quality fish oil daily to get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids.


Magnesium plays a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions daily. It also helps you perform in the gym, boosts your mood and helps you fall asleep faster.

While the RDA for magnesium is 300 mg daily for women, other women may need higher doses to restore depleted magnesium levels.

Foods that can provide magnesium include avocados, nuts and spinach.


Selenium is essential for your antioxidant defenses and various aspects of your immune system. This nutrient is also part of thyroid hormone activation.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for selenium is very low at 55 mcg. Based on research, Fragoso and Kalanick recommend a daily intake of 200 mcg.

The following foods contain selenium:

Eating two or three Brazil nuts per day can give you a 200-mcg dose of selenium.


Zinc is crucial for overall hormonal balance. All hormones, from cortisol to your sex hormones, require this nutrient. You also need zinc for a strong immune system and healthy skin.

The RDA for zinc is only 8 mg per day, but Fragoso and Kalanick suggest taking at least 30 mg per day for women. Those who are on a vegetarian diet, have poor digestion or drink alcohol regularly may need to supplement with a bit more zinc.

Foods that contain zinc include cashews, eggs, grass-fed beef, lamb, mushrooms and oysters.

Don't let your stress levels go unchecked. Read up on some of your possible stressors and make lifestyle changes to address them as soon as possible to manage your stress levels and improve your well-being.

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