Monthly Archives: May 2018

Can Stress Make You Tired?

man looking tired in bed

Short answer: Yes!

Long answer:

Our bodies have this wonderful function called the “fight or flight” response. It’s regulated by the adrenal glands, and its intention is to equip our bodies for those extreme stress situations in which we must fight or flee. The adrenal glands release stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline to prepare us to react. That’s where we get the alertness, the tension, the rush of energy that lets us do things in high-stress situations of which we didn’t know we were capable.

It’s just as critical for diving off the starting blocks in a 50m butterfly sprint for the gold as it is slamming on the brakes to avoid rear ending that reckless driver who swerved into your lane on the freeway. These hormones elicit the immediate response that lets us react in an instant. These high-stress situations — whether emergencies or competitions — resolve quickly. Your heart rate goes back to its resting level and your adrenal glands get to rest.

The problem is prolonged, chronic stress. The adrenal glands can treat constant stress from work, relationships and other daily worries like a life-or-death situation, constantly releasing the stress hormones and overworking themselves. That’s what’s called adrenal fatigue. It’s a whole system of the body working overtime. It gets tired.

And it’s not just the glands themselves responding to stress that can make you tired. The long-term secretion of stress hormones are also damaging to our energy levels.

The adrenal glands release adrenaline to increase the heart rate, blood pressure, and energy to prepare the body for action. The adrenaline rush can save our lives in a dark alley. It can also cause substantial disruption to our sleep when we’re lying in bed and our bodies are preparing to do battle with an assailant.

Cortisol is one of those stress hormones and it’s gotten a bad rap due to its unintended effects from chronic stress. It’s meant to increase the glucose in the bloodstream so the brain has the supplies it needs to respond in an emergency. Cortisol suppresses bodily functions deemed nonessential during these emergencies, like the immunity, digestion, and reproductive systems. This laser focus on the response to the immediate stressor is what helps us achieve the “life” in “life or death” situation. Again, this is detrimental when it’s on all the time.

As you would assume, being constantly in a state of high alert can disrupt sleep. You may know that your already-heavy workload increasing due to your manager’s upcoming maternity leave is not a life or death situation. Your body doesn’t get that nuance. It’s preparing for a litany of emails like it was a hail of bullets.

All these hormones cause your body to be in a state of mental and physical alertness. Our muscles go under tension to do things like brace for a punch in the gut. When that response doesn’t shut off, it’s as exhausting to the body as holding a plank all day.

Our brains become hyper alert on the response to the stress, working to process the thoughts surrounding the emergency. Again, vital for your survival if you are in a fight to the death on the edge of a cliff. Not so useful when you’re sitting on the couch after a long day at the office.

Chronic stress makes our bodies’ react like we’re constantly under siege. Our adrenal glands and all the body systems that stress hormones affect are convinced that if they don’t shut off, we will die. And that’s an exhausting way to live.

So, can stress make you tired? As much as a never-ending car chase.

What Produces Collagen? Hint: It’s Deeper than the Skin.

collagen molecules

Collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body. What produces collagen is a series of reactions in parts of the body where it’s needed, that occur at different rates as we age.

Ever wondered why our skin was so smooth and firm as children, even though mom scrubbed the dirt off our faces with bottom-shelf bar soap? Why we sled down hills with reckless abandon and rarely broke a bone while a slip in the bathtub in our later years is enough for the dreaded broken hip? Why our knees never ached, even when it rained?

It’s because our little bodies were replete with collagen, a naturally occurring structural protein made by a chemical reaction in our cells. As it’s responsible for firm skin, healthy joint cartilage, and strong bones, it’s in a constant cycle of production and use by these parts of the body.

As children, our bodies produced collagen in abundance, at a rate faster than we could use it. And, like so many processes in our bodies, our natural collagen production declines with age. While so many beauty companies are peddling topical creams and oils claiming to infuse collagen into the skin to restore elasticity and the elusive youthful appearance, collagen production does not occur on the surface. It’s a cellular process that transpires inside the body to yield the results on the outside, and infusing youthful productivity into an aging collagen factory requires more than surface treatment.

What produces collagen is a complex series of chemical reactions at the cellular level.

It starts with two amino acids, glycine and proline. These building blocks of protein form a stranded structure called procollagen, a precursor to collagen. A functional group containing hydrogen and oxygen atoms, called a hydroxyl group, bonds to the procollagen. This process is called hydroxylation, and it’s a critical step to forming the triple helix structure that is collagen.

The hydroxylation process is dependent on the presence of Vitamin C to function as a cofactor, a substance that is essential for the activity of an enzyme. In the case of collagen, the enzymes prolyl-4-hydroxylase and lysyl-hydroxylase are the catalysts for the reaction that bonds the oxygen-hydrogen group to the amino acids. Without Vitamin C, that reaction can’t occur and collagen can’t be formed.

What produces collagen is just as important as what breaks it down.

Cells in the skin, bones, and cartilage are in a constant cycle of creation and destruction of collagen. In the skin, fibroblasts produce the collagen while fibroclasts break it down. In the bones, the cycle is replicated by osteoblasts that assist bone formation and the osteoclasts that absorb the bone tissue. Chondroblasts are responsible for producing cartilage while, you guessed it, chondroclasts help the body use that cartilage. While it sounds negative, the destruction process is vital to putting the collagen to use in the areas of the body where it’s needed; namely the skin, bones, and joints. The problem is that as we age, the destruction accelerates while the production lags.

It’s supply and demand. And the body’s production line can’t keep up with the joints, skin, and bones that become more demanding of collagen as they age and continue to be exposed to the free radicals and other environmental damages that come with just existing.

So, what to do to help your body keep up with the demand? Well, the obvious answer is to give your body’s production facility the materials it needs to produce maximal collagen. As Vitamin C is essential to the process, ensuring that you get an adequate daily dose of this antioxidant can’t hurt. Be cognizant of the other lifestyle factors that can compromise your ability to produce collagen, like sun damage and the accumulation of free radicals.

Discover how to maximize your body’s absorption of this essential nutrient for collagen production with our Lypo-Spheric™ Vitamin C.