What are the effects of stress on aging?

There is often talk of the fact that stress among other things accelerates aging processes and somehow worsens the physical and the mind. It is known photographs depicting US President Obama at the time of presidential appointment with corvine hair and three years later with broadly grizzled hair. This change has been attributed by the media to the worry and the stressful life that the American President must do.

Several studies on brain aging, many still underway, would demonstrate that chronic stress, therefore, a pathological condition characterized by a persistent state of tension, leads to premature brain aging due to the high level of cortisol in the brain, body. Obviously, there are many factors of brain aging, but stress seems to be one of these. What matters is not as much as it is stressed, but rather the subjective response to stress. This response depends on the genetic characteristics of the subject, the subject’s culture, education, the environment in which he lives and the psychological characteristics of the individual. The cortisol (stress hormone) is the key to understanding the body’s response to stress. In a “bad aging” with impairment of cognitive functions, there was a high level of cortisol and at the same time a decrease in hippocampal size, which is the key structure for learning and memory processes, as well as for the ability to focus.

When the body is exposed to a stressful situation, it puts in place adaptive strategies that allow it to cope with the event; in particular it reacts by increasing the secretion of some hormones and by inhibiting the secretion of others.

This is because it has to predispose the organism to the original alert reaction in front of which to choose whether to attack or flee. Adrenal glands, stressed by the hypo-physiological and hypothalamus-triggered brain, release a variety of hormones, including cortisol (stress hormones) into the body. If the body’s adaptation click to the new stressful situation does not end over a period of time, resulting in the production of stress hormone production by the body, the stressed state of the stressed organism persists over the long run and the body enters into suffering and suffers from illness.

This is why the wise management of the stressful situations and the effects they cause daily on us is of utmost importance. Meditation, physical activity, knowledge of ourselves, and processes triggered by stress, leisure, rest, social life, and healthy eating play an important role here.

With this, good day and next episode where we will talk about the effects of coffee on stress.

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