“Supply and demand” — that refers to the balance between the need for a product and the supply of that product. When there are shortages of paper towels and toilet paper, you know one thing is happening: somewhere the production of paper goods is rising to try to meet the shortage. In markets, the vehicle that triggers this change in production is monetary cost: shortages cause price increases and pent-up demand which make it more profitable to increase production. Eventually the supply goes back to full, and may even create a surplus, since the rate of production takes time to fall back to normal.
The body works on a supply and demand principle also. When you are winded and need more oxygen, your heart rate and breathing increase to meet the oxygen shortage. The “cost” to do so is the harder work of the lungs and heart. When your body senses stress, it uses hormones to signal demand for greater resources, at a cost to your body to provide those resources. If stress continues, an overproduction of hormones occurs and you are left with a surplus. Until that surplus returns to normal levels, your body is working too hard to deal with the stress.
The “epi” prefix means “on”, “over” or “before”. Genetics refers to the high-information code that exists in all cells to direct their activity, sort of like laws do in a country. If you think the tax laws, for instance, are very complicated, they are ultra-simple compared with the complexity of genetic codes, which are so complicated that it took scientific methods only developed in the last couple of decades to be able to map them. For a long time, we thought that genetics were relatively static: that is, you have certain genes that will determine how your body acts, for your entire life, in the same manner. You were simply “born that way” and nothing would change that.
What we’ve since learned, and what many doctors still don’t fully grasp, is that epigenetics is often the greater factor in genetic expression. This “over” or “on top” expression occurs because genes actually contain many code segments, most of which are inactive or dormant, which can be rearranged into activity when need demands. Genetics are highly responsive to supply and demand forces in the body.
This is good news and bad news. If you are doing good things for your health, your genetics arrange themselves in such a way to support that health. If you are putting your body under stress, epigenetics means your cells are adjusting their activity at the genetic level to cope with the stress, at an ongoing cost to your body’s health.
Health or dis-health is a reaction to the body’s environment. Stress causes the body to create an environment of restricting long-term healthy functions in favor of a short-term gain in performance. Stress tells the body that there is a crisis, and this is no time to focus on rebuilding and improving the body; this is the time to get maximum response to the emergency regardless of the cost. When a true crisis hits, that is a great response which allows us to do amazing things in the face of an emergency. However, without a true emergency, all we get out of the deal is that we pay the cost in our health.
In a study published in Science Advances, research done jointly at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry mapped out the so-called ”stress axis”, showing how stress signals begin in the hypothalamus of the brain, producing two peptides (vasopressin and corticotropin-releasing hormone, or “CRH”) which are transported to the pituitary gland, which then stimulate the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which then is transported via the bloodstream to the adrenal gland, where it synthesizes corticosteroids (particularly cortisol) from cholesterol — this process results in changes in the adrenal cells which enhance the body’s ability to more efficiently release more cortisol. They found that a gene that appears to promote a cellular pump to release cortisol becomes “overexposed” in periods of chronic stress, meaning that the genetic segment that makes the cells produce stress hormones activates in more cells than during periods without stress.
Here, “supply and demand” was actually seen happening. As stress kept occurring, the body felt the need, or demand, for more cortisol, so cells responsible for producing this stress hormone responded by becoming more effective in producing it. Then the body was even more able to respond to stress (and do more long-term damage) because that is what the cellular environment was demanding.
Environment is the driver of cell activity. While environment doesn’t actually create genetic changes except in cases of direct damage, the body’s robust response to it means that changes to the cell environment inevitably results in the cells adapting to them. When you perceive stress, whether it is real or not, you trigger a chain of events that change your cell response from a repair-and-build to a deal-with-the-crisis mode.
Another study, published in ScienceDirect, was a “systematic review” of 1720 research study results, concluded, “Exaggerated and blunted SAM system and HPA axis stress reactivity predicted distinct physical and mental health and disease outcomes over time.” “SAM” is the sympathetic nervous system-adrenal medullary system, and “HPA” is the hypothalamus-pituitary adrenal axis which is the “stress axis”. In other words, they concluded that future disease issues tie back to elevated stress and/or impaired (such as overloaded) stress management mechanisms. 1720 studies might be enough to convince you that stress directly impacts your health!
It is easy to give the advice “reduce your stress”. Easier said than done, right? When you understand that stress is a matter of perception, the better advice is “reduce your perception of stress”. Becoming more aware of when you are feeling stressed, taking a mental step back at those times and taking some deep breaths, considering whether the stress is necessary — these can help you break one stress cycle, then another, until they become a habit. Dealing with conscious and subconscious “programs” from your past is another vital way to effectively reduce stress. In doing so, your cell environment will improve, and no matter what genes you were born with, they will respond positively to the better environment and build your health!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
What you do not want is having your cells adapting to chronic stressors, because if they do, then you will have major weakening of systems, organs and glands. For example, if your body produces cortisol chronically, this not only destroys the intestinal microvilli (causing systemic inflammation), and starts breaking down bones (osteoporosis) but even shuts off the part of your immune system that prevents cancer from developing in your body. Not only all this, but in your hippocampus, which is your memory center, these cells start to die. You were never, ever meant for acute stress more than 10 minutes and definitely not more than one hour. If this continues and actually causes the genes to adapt to this environment, then you have opened the door to all kinds of health issues both physically and mentally. What can you do? Stress can be reduced with regular exercise, prayer and meditation, and living more fully each moment instead of focusing on the future and past so much. At Total Health Institute we do 3D Brain Imaging to find the conscious and subconscious stress programs and then do special therapy to release them.
Here are ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.