The Secret of Longevity: Using Stress to our Benefit
Stress is not a product of modern times.
Human beings have been under stress since the beginning of times, fighting wild beasts, surviving natural catastrophes and wars.
What is happening today? Why do we suddenly see so many diseases emerging from stress?
Why have we become so vulnerable to it?
We have forgotten how to use stress to our advantage.
You might be surprised that the latest studies in Anti-Aging Medicine are focusing on “cellular stress” for longevity.
We are made of trillions of cells and we are only as old and healthy as our cells are. What we are discovering is that the cells in our body need to be stressed to a certain level to become resilient and to regenerate. This means that we are programmed to survive extreme stress.
Stress itself is not “bad” for us. It is how we process it that matters. We need to be able to fully relax after experiencing a stressor for the body and the mind to regenerate. Then we can rebound from stress stronger and thrive from it.
What happens is that stress tends to trigger fear in our minds, and that keeps us from taking a relaxing break. We often keep going under stress until we become exhausted or sick.
So how do we stress our cells and how do we regenerate from stress?
1- FASTING: Being hungry is good for you!
In France, people grow up with two balanced meals a day and a light snack for breakfast. There is no snacking in between meals and they get hungry by lunch or dinner time.
Being hungry means that your cells are stressed by starvation, and we understand now that it makes them stronger. This also increases our metabolism and helps maintain a healthy weight.
Intermittent Fasting which is widely promoted in Anti-Aging medicine is a way to teach ourselves to stop snacking and just wait for the next meal while making our cells more resilient!
2- BREATHING: Deep breathing stresses your cells and lengthens your life
Oxygen is the fuel for Energy, and Metabolism.
The Mitochondria in our cells need oxygen to produce energy.
When we breathe superficially, we feed them only minimal amounts of oxygen which is sufficient to stay alive but not enough to optimize our metabolism.
When we practice deep and forceful breathing, we alternate between starving the cells from oxygen to feeding them large amounts of it. As a result, the cells become stronger and produce more energy which in turn boosts the metabolism.
Yogis have known it for a long time: the fewer breaths we take, the longer we live. Taking in a deep long breath and holding it before exhaling is much healthier than taking many short breaths.
However, we can’t spend our days in full awareness of our breathing like yogis do so we need a regular deep breathing practice for our health.
3- EXERCISE: The optimal form of physical stress
We need to exercise regularly and put our muscles to work. Muscle cells play a big role in insulin release and sugar metabolism. Strong muscle cells process insulin better. This is why exercising is very important to lower blood sugars and prevent diabetes.
Also, during exercise, muscle cells send a substance called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which helps enhance the connections between neurons. This helps with brain function, focus, and memory.
4- REGENERATE: Relax and bounce back from stress
We need to reach a state of COMPLETE physical and mental relaxation. It’s easier to put our body to rest than our mind. Therefore, we need a practice that can shut down the thinking process for at least 20 minutes a day.
This is called meditation, and it just means emptying your mind and relaxing your body.
It is helpful to use breathwork to prepare for meditation. Sometimes we need to breathe louder than our thoughts so we can suppress them.
I encourage you to practice the morning and night breathwork in my program and feel better and better every day!
In Vibrant Health,
Dr. Evelyne Leone