The occasional stressful event – like a car that won’t start, or a refrigerator on the blink – is a part of life. And when stuff like this happens, we do get stressed a little bit – it’s the body’s way of helping us to focus so we can tackle the problem. Getting stressed out occasionally is one thing, but when stress becomes chronic – when we face, for instance, unrelenting work demands or constantly worry about our finances – it can really take a toll on the body.
The body’s natural response to stress leads us to feel a little more ‘on’ and alert. We evolved this ‘fight or flight response’ as a way to defend ourselves against a sudden danger or threat. But when this stress response is turned on all the time, it can tax the body’s immune system, making it more difficult for us to ward off disease. And since a healthy immune system depends on a nutrient-rich diet, being well-nourished is one of the best defenses against illness, particularly during times of ongoing stress.