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Don't Underestimate Stress: How It Harms And Ages Your Body

03/24/2016 12:42 EDT | Updated 03/25/2017 05:12 EDT
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Stress has become a modern-day curse. We're all so busy juggling competing demands every day, that it's easy to get stressed-out.

But if you stay that way -- as all too many of us do - you're playing Russian Roulette with your health.

Biologically speaking, problems arise when your cortisol levels remain high because you can't find ways to chill out. The constant secretion of this stress hormone will leave you feeling worse for wear and will prematurely age your body.

The irony for many of us is that our "stress response" has become even more damaging to our health than the everyday events that trigger our stress. In other words, we typically tend to preoccupy our minds with these stressful incidents long after they're over. And so the cortisol keeps flowing long after it should have abated.

If fact, if you want to keep your body youthful, take note that cortisol also promotes "subclinical" (hidden) inflammation, which occurs at a cellular level.

This kind of inflammation can lead to all sorts of undesirable pro-aging changes in your body. These include the onset of high blood pressure and/or elevated blood sugar -- both of which can cause heart disease.

Even if your heart is in good shape because you exercise regularly, you still need to watch out. That's because subclinical inflammation can also cause pain in your joints, according to medical research.

Eventually this could lead to arthritis, which would certainly curtail your vitality. And on a cosmetic level, stress-induced inflammation can damage your skin by making it thinner and more susceptible to the ravages of aging.

Once again, premature aging can do more than just spoil your looks. The scientific community has now discovered that unrelenting severe stress can also cause all sorts of degenerative conditions.

They include muscle loss, weakened internal organs, diminished eyesight and hearing, and even compromised mental abilities. All of which are typical symptoms of accelerated aging. Even at a cellular level, stress can do more than just promote inflammation; it can even cause life-shortening damage, studies show.

Remember that too much stress is going to insidiously ravage your body in a number of different ways that go way beyond ruining your looks. So remember to be kind to your body: Do whatever it takes to learn to minimize your stress levels. That's the ultimate key to staying healthy and youthful.

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