Hack Your Stress Response

Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month?

With only a few days left in April, I wanted to talk about stress, since it’s one of the most common roadblocks to losing weight and overcoming chronic diseases such as autoimmunity and other inflammatory conditions. Indeed, stress alone can undo the health benefits of a perfect Paleo diet!

Our nervous system has evolved very little since the days of our primal ancestors and our stress response (which is largely mediated by the nervous system) is essentially the same as it was millions of years ago. Stated simply: we only have one stress response.

The body reacts to all stressors (whether real or imagined) in the same way — by activating the sympathetic branch of your nervous system also known as Fight or Flight. This ultimately results in the production of inflammation, which can literally save your life by allowing you to temporarily ignore injuries while escaping immediate danger. For example, inflammation can quarantine infections that may have gotten into the blood, or it can act like an ‘ankle brace’ to help you keep going if you break your ankle trying to run away from a saber-toothed cat. The point is, nature intended for inflammation to be a short-term survival strategy.

Chronic Stress refers to ongoing, long-term stress that doesn’t stop. Stress is meant to be short-term (acute), and historically, it was. You either escaped from the saber-toothed cat, or you didn’t…but in any case, the chase didn’t last for days on end. Only recently in human evolution have we entered an era where we are constantly ‘stressed out’, to no end.

Chronic stress does some not-so-great things to the body and brain:

  • We lose our ability to control our inflammatory response without adequate adrenal gland function producing enough of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol. Keep in mind that most, if not all “diseases of modern civilization” have inflammation at their root (such as autoimmune disease, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
  • Eventually our adrenal glands aren’t able to keep up with the need for adrenaline and cortisol production, and they become exhausted (this is called “adrenal fatigue”).
  • Stress in any form can seriously interfere with our goals and health. This is largely because when the body thinks we’re in danger, it automatically shuts off the ability to heal damaged tissues, digest food properly, sleep deeply, or have good old-fashioned fun (which is ultimately what life is supposed to be about)!

Stressors are inevitable, but stress is not. We have power over our “stress response”, that is, how we respond to the stressors in our lives. Understanding our natural response to stress is the first and most important step in learning to re-train our stress responses to work for us, instead of against us. Research shows that one of the most effective tools for re-training our stress response is the practice of mindfulness. This week on the Paleo Plan blog, our fitness guru Max explains how to start meditating and shares a basic (but highly effective) “Moment of Mindfulness” breathing meditation.

I’ll leave you with this bit of nutritional advice – if you can reduce stress in only one area of your life, focus on relaxing and expressing an attitude of gratitude, particularly around meal times. Expressing gratitude physically increases our digestive function by putting the nervous system into the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state (the opposite of ‘fight or flight’). When we’re stressed or rushed during mealtimes, our bodies are much less efficient at extracting nutrients from food.

It’s unreasonable to try and ‘stop stress’, because as mentioned, we need the stress response for survival! Overcoming chronic stress involves learning how to efficiently recognize life’s many and inevitable stressors, and modifying our behavior accordingly. With time, patience, forgiveness, and diligent practice, we learn to not give away our ‘sympathetic’ energy to anything that isn’t currently threatening our life. And remember, when all else fails, just keep breathing (with your diaphragm)!

“Stressing over stress is what makes stress so stressful”. ~ Mark Sisson

With gratitude and in good health,
Kinsey Jackson LMP, MS, CNS®
Paleo Plan Nutritionist

It’s Not Too Late: Experts Discuss Methods of Fat Loss

FAT LOSSConfused about the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off? Want to understand the differences between dietary approaches to find what works best for you? The Truth About Fat Loss Summit gives you an opportunity to learn what the most heralded health experts in the world agree (and disagree) about, so you can determine what makes the most sense for your health!

Discover more online at The Truth About Fat Loss Summit with this amazing video series.


Meditation or Quiet Time – It’s Paleo!

Paleo PlanThere was a time in our not so distant history, where we had time during the day that was relatively quiet. Even a mere century and a half ago, electricity was a wonderful scientific thing, but wasn’t in anyone’s home yet. Without electricity, you were probably free from 80-90% of the distractions that we experience in these modern times. It turns out that taking a little time to chill, and kinda do nothing, or at least being mindful, isn’t a bad idea for any of us.



New Recipe:
Italian Sausage Stew

This winning recipe was shared by one of our awesome meal plan members, thanks Ashley!


Put Your Stress in Check!

Paleo Plan
Mindfullness For Beginners
Paleo Plan
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Paleo Plan
Getting Things Done
Paleo Plan
The Tapping Solution

Are you breathing correctly? Spire lets you know!

spireWhen we’re stressed-out, it’s common to breathe with our chests (instead of our diaphragms) which triggers further stress in a vicious cycle. Learning to correct breathing patterns is essential in overcoming stress-related diseases and achieving overall health and well-being. The Spire breathing monitor clips easily to clothing and connects to your Iphone to give instantaneous feedback about breathing. Spire helps the most stressed-out person to re-train their breath, mind, and nervous system to be more calm and focused. 


Spire Wearable Breathing Monitor for iOS ▶

Stress Hacking Tools

inner balance
Inner Balance BioFeedback
meditation cushion
Meditation Cushion
stress balls
Cyber Gel Stress Relief Squeeze Balls
Stress Relief Aromatherapy Essential Oil

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

kasOlive Oil is a staple in the the Paleo Diet and finding quality at a reasonable price is often difficult.  Kasandrinos Organic Olive Oil comes from the Koroneiko olive tree. The Koroneiko olive tree is the most common in Greece and is one of the more unique olive tree varieties because is one of the few olive varieties that produce olive oil that have a two-year shelf life.


Italian Salad w/ Roasted Tomatoes & Olives




From Stress to Inflammation to Chronic Disease

STRESS“Stress kills.” We’ve all heard that saying. But do you know how and why stress kills? Did you also know that without stress, we would all be dead? While the process is more complex than I’m going to make it out to be, the end all effect of chronic stress is chronic inflammation, which is thought to lie at the root of most, if not all diseases of ‘modern civilization’.


Chronic Stress → Inflammation → Disease → More stress → More inflammation → Worsening of disease → 


Kinsey JacksonKinsey Jackson

Kinsey Jackson, LMP, MS, CNS® is a clinical nutritionist specializing in functional and evolutionary nutrition. Her own experience of overcoming multiple autoimmune disorders by adopting a Paleo lifestyle vastly contributes to her passion for helping others to also reclaim their health and vitality by making informed dietary decisions.