The rise and rise of chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are long lasting conditions with persistent effects and they are becoming increasingly common and affecting people of younger and younger age:

  • arthritis

  • asthma

  • back pain

  • cancer

  • cardiovascular disease

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • diabetes

  • anxiety, depression, mental health

An integrative complementary approach to health and wellbeing can improve health outcomes for people living with a chronic disease. It is now well known that stress wreaks havoc on health outcomes. Kinesiology’s role is to help identify the cause/s of stress held in the mind-body and diffuse that stress to enable the body to maintain homeostasis and ultimately optimum health and wellbeing. Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of chronic disease and researchers are now clear on the fact that stress drives inflammation, and inflammation drives chronic diseases.

Inflammation is partly regulated by cortisol. Cortisol is the primary hormone (along with adrenaline) released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It curbs non-essential body functions in a fight/flight situation, eg. It alters immune function, suppresses digestive function, reproductive function, and growth processes, things that can wait if you’re fighting or fleeing for your life! This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

Unfortunately, today’s busy world is full of stimuli that we’re really just not wired for. Constant and prolonged periods of stress lead to over-exposure to cortisol, which in turn alters its effectiveness in regulating the inflammatory process. Inflammation gets out of control and promotes the development and progression of many diseases.

One in every two Australians (50%) have at least one prominent chronic condition
— 2014-15 National Health Survey self reporting

Reference: Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk
Cohen et al. PNAS April 17, 2012 109 (16) 5995-5999