Preventive Health Advices – Diabetes & Stress

Tigray Academy | August 02/2023
By Dr Gebrewahid Woldu

  1. STRESS:

Stress is an inevitable part of our life, from traffic to major illness, work and family related issues.
Stress can be divided into Acute and chronic stress.

1.1. ACUTE STRESS: is essential for survival. It helps us to be alert in times of impending danger — threat from an attack, fire, avoiding being hit by a car. Even during a test to remain alert.. Acute stress activates hormones called Adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones helps us to either fight or avoid danger and thus is called “fight or flight” The cortisol causes increase in blood sugar to provide energy to our muscles so we can move fast . It also increases blood pressure and the amount of blood the heart pumps. The Adrenaline increases heart rate(heart beats fast),muscle tenses, breathing is fast which helps us to take fast action to avoid danger. Short term stress is critical for our survival otherwise we can die without it. So Acute stress is good stress and our survival depends on it. When the danger passes the hormones return to normal.
This becomes a problem when these stress hormones are not fully turned off due to low repeated (chronic) exposure to stressors , chronic illnesses or the trauma our people are still enduring- the post traumatic stress, after being raped, witnessed family murdered by our eternal enemies, displaced and not knowing when they’ll return to their home and watching their children starving.


High cortisol due to chronic stress, can contribute or exacerbate many health conditions:
Some examples include:
-Cardiovascular disease ( heart disease)
-Insulin resistance leading to diabetes
-Weight gain/obesity

  • Sleep problems/Insomnia
    -high blood pressure
    -suppressed ( low) immunity
    -PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder
  • Early death
  • and many other health problems.
    So chronically high cortisol has harmful eon the brain and the body and affects in multiple ways.
    Before I discuss management few points on the major health consequences of chronic stress ( high cortisol)

PTSD– Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder
One of the known consequences of traumatic experience is – PTSD.
It affects not only our people back home but affects all of us.It is a traumatic experience which scares a victim of rape,physical assault, witnessing of the violent killing of your family , just being in the war zone. People with PTSD experience intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, Freon.Due to their emotional scar, in the attempt of avoiding reminders they withdraw/ isolate from society, and they will experience sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Of course not all people handle all circumstances the same way.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE ( heart disease and hypertension)
How does chronic stress contribute to cardiovascular disease? The stress hormones CORTISOL and EPINEPHRINE ( adrenaline) stimulates the release and increase the levels of a cholesterol called TRIGLYCERIDE and other fats such as LDL cholesterol ( bad cholesterol) and these fats are deposited on the artery wall and causing hardening of the coronary arteries.
High cortisol also stimulates white blood cells called macrophages. High macrophages can trigger inflammation-and chronic inflammation results in fat deposits inside artery walls which is linked to a higher risk of heart disease or if you already have heart disease to heart attack. Most heart attacks are due to inflammation not due to blockages.
An intensive physical or emotional experience such the death of a loved one can cause a STRESSED CARDIOMYOPATHY also know us a BROKEN HEART SYNDROME which doesn’t involve blockage of an artery.
Many psychological factors- such as depression,anxiety, anger, hostility and loneliness contribute to stress. Other social factors,work, family and financial related are factors that increase the development of heart condition.

Chronic stress ( high cortisol) also causes elevated blood pressure which in turn damages the heart blood vessels and other organs leading to increase risk of heart disease.Stress hormone causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure causes the heart to pump harder and the heart gets bigger and inefficient. High blood pressure damage artery wall which causes atherosclerosis ( thickening) which increases the risk for heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and kidney diseases (damage).

( which is called the BLACK DEATH of the 22st century)z.
Diabetes is affected by stress. First stress( cortisol )causes weight gain/obesity which is the primary risk for developing diabetes.Most stressed people eat unhealthy foods- processed with added salt, salt sugar and fat- which are called comfort foods.
Chronic stress makes very difficult controlling diabetes.

The whole principle is to lower and counterbalance the stress hormones.
1 community/friends Support
3.Adequate sleep
4 Relaxation techniques- DEEP BREATHING, Meditation, prayer, yoga , laughter all help to reduce stress

Community support is known to help in reducing stress( hope I remember but there is ongoing Harvard university research which is about 86 years long and plant to discuss the findings. What the research findings is that healthy/supportive family/ friends Community’s relationship is very important for health and longevity ( more than money, fame)

Knowing what exercise does experts say is EXERCISE was available as PILL, everyone would have been on taking it.
Among the many benefits of exercise. It induces the production of ENDORPHINS (“happy hormones). It also known as “ runners high”. These hormones counterbalance the stress hormones.
People who are stressed tend to eat not only more but also unhealthy foods- sweat, fatty, high in calories which are considered “ comfort food
Eating healthy diet , getting adequate sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, exercising regularly helps managing stress and help to build strong immune system. On the other hand lack of sleep, inactivity can lead to vicious cycle, high CORTISOL level, eating more and unhealthy foods gaining weight and leading to a host of chronic medical conditions.

DEEP BREATHING– also called “diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing “

Slow and deep breathing, 5 to 6 deep breath a minute and few times a day total of 15 minutes a day lowers the effects of stress
Laughter is thought to be the antidote (that counter acts) to stress. Cortisol acts as an immunosuppressant and laughter lowers Cory and helps to improve immune function

As Tigrayan community our over all wellbeing depends on the ability to cope with the situation we are facing and supporting each other. We need to build our relationship as community in order to survive. We can’t afford the negative relationships. It takes all of us to build a healthy community and healthy community to uplift Tigray.

Thank you for reading and you’re welcome to share it!

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