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Don’t worry, be happy: how stress ages the body and how you can prevent it

Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio for Pexels

Michael Meighen, MD, a regenerative medicine specialist, discusses the harmful effects of stress on the body and how to optimize hormone levels to prevent premature ageing
When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline. Short bursts of these hormones increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels to help us cope with immediate threats. However, our bodies stay in flight or flight mode when stress persists, and cortisol levels remain high. If stress becomes a chronic condition, the hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on our bodies. It harms not only our mental and emotional well-being but also our physical health.
Chronic stress is linked to rapid ageing
Over prolonged periods, chronic stress can accelerate the ageing process, and one of the most visible signs of ageing is the condition of our skin. Chronic stress disrupts our natural sleep–wake cycle, leading to poor-quality sleep or insomnia. Inadequate sleep impairs skin barrier function, reduces collagen production, and increases the breakdown of hyaluronic acid, resulting in premature skin ageing, wrinkles, and a dull complexion.

Chronic stress also triggers a persistent state of inflammation, leading to higher levels of oxidative stress, which can further accelerate ageing by damaging cells, tissues, and organs. As chronic stress weakens our immune system, we become more susceptible to infections that exacerbate the inflammatory response.

In addition, chronic stress affects brain health and cognitive function, as the persistent release of stress hormones can lead to brain shrinkage, particularly in areas associated with memory and learning. Consequently, those experiencing chronic stress are more susceptible to cognitive decline, memory impairment, and an increased risk of developing neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, telomeres—the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes—play a crucial role in cellular ageing. Telomeres naturally shorten with each replication of our cells, but chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can expedite this process. Research indicates that individuals experiencing chronic stress have shorter telomeres and, consequently, an increased risk of age-related diseases such as cardiovascular conditions, neuro-degenerative disorders, and even cancer.
Chronic stress weakens the immune system
Our immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend our bodies against harmful pathogens. Prolonged stress weakens our immune system in several ways and makes us more susceptible to illness, particularly as we age.

Chronic stress triggers chronic inflammation. While inflammation is a natural immune response, persistent inflammation leads to a dysregulation immune system and inhibits the body’s ability to fight infections properly. Chronic stress also reduces the production of white blood cells, which play a vital role in detecting and eliminating foreign invaders. As their production diminishes, our immune system’s ability to combat infections weakens.

Additionally, chronic stress interferes with the production of antibodies—proteins that target and neutralize specific pathogens. When our antibody response is compromised, our body becomes less effective at recognizing and eliminating harmful invaders. Furthermore, chronic stress exacerbates age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, further compromising immune function. This creates a vicious cycle where chronic stress and weakened immunity increase the risk of developing more serious health issues.
Photo courtesy of Cookie Studio for Freepik
Photo courtesy of Cookie Studio for Freepik
Cookie Studio/Freepik
How to optimize hormone levels to mitigate the negative effects of stress
When cortisol levels remain elevated due to chronic stress, it disrupts the delicate balance of other hormones in the body. Hormonal imbalances result in a wide range of symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, and decreased libido.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress-reducing activities is the first step toward restoring hormone balance and improving stress resilience. If, after making these lifestyle modifications, you still struggle with chronic stress, a bio-identical hormone expert can assess your hormone levels and develop a personalized treatment plan. In recent years, bio-identical hormone experts have started using hormone replacement therapy to alleviate the symptoms of chronic stress and restore hormonal balance. This therapy involves administering bio-identical hormones to supplement or replace the body’s natural hormone production to restore hormonal balance and alleviate symptoms associated with chronic stress.

Experts identify hormone imbalances through thorough evaluations, including comprehensive blood tests, medical histories, and symptom assessments. Next, they prescribe a customized plan with precise doses of hormones, addressing elevated cortisol levels and using bio-identical hormones such as œstrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid, based on individual needs. Patients receive the specific hormone support they require instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Chronic stress is undeniably harmful due to its capacity to accelerate ageing, weaken our immune system, and leave us more vulnerable to illness as we age. However, by addressing hormone imbalances through lifestyle modifications, stress management techniques, and hormone replacement therapy, we can effectively mitigate its harmful impact.
About AgeRejuvenation Medical Spa
CEO Brett Markowitz saw a gap in the space of regenerative and anti-ageing medicine and recognized that few medical spa clinics, if any, were addressing the ageing symptoms of patients at the root cause. He began to formulate a plan that pinpointed the needed treatments for ageing, such as weight-loss solutions, sexual dysfunction aided by male treatments and female treatments, a focus on hormone balancing, peptide therapy, as well as æsthetics. For this reason, AgeRejuvenation has become a multifaceted medical spa clinic which addresses weight loss, hormone imbalance, sexual dysfunction, and superficial signs of ageing with superior patient care and a medical team. Visit www.agerejuvenation.com. Visit www.agerejuvenation.com.


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