Neuro Drinks on How Stress Alters Brain Structure

It is widely known that stress can impact the body in numerous ways. The creators of Neuro Drinks know that there are two kinds of stress: good and bad. While good stress causes the body and mind to be sharper and more alert, bad stress can be damaging to one’s health. It is true that good stress can allow someone to manage challenging situations, but bad stress is often associated with many adverse medical conditions. Indeed, medical professionals have documented the association between stress and a number of health problems, such as headaches, heart diseases, asthma, anxiety, and depression.

Research has also shown that stress can even change the structure of the brain.

A Primer on the Brain’s Structure

The human brain is one of the most complex structures known to man. Although it weighs an average of just three pounds, it contains billions of two types of cells: glia and neurons.

The experts at Neuro Drinks realize that more people are familiar with neurons, as they are often thought of as the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system. Indeed, neurons are responsible for letting the brain receive sensory input from outside the body, transmitting motor commands to the muscles, and communicating electrical signals from one cell to another through specialized connections called synapses.

Meanwhile, the less commonly known glial cells, or neuroglia, comprise roughly a third to two-thirds of all the cells inside the brain. They are said to be the glue that holds neurons together because they function as the physical and metabolic support for neurons. There are four types of glial cells, namely astrocytes, microglia, NG2-glia, and oligodendrocytes. The majority of glial cells are astrocytes, and they are tasked with developing and preserving the connection of the synapses.

The Impacts of Stress on Neuronal Connection

Chronic stress is known to cause significant changes in a person’s brain. The scientists at Neuro Drinks cite a pre-human study that illustrates how stress can alter brain structure. In the study, traumatic events can result in the deterioration of neurons, consequently leading to a disturbance in neuronal connections and neural communication. 

Other research has determined that chronic stress can kill new neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. The hippocampus is one of the two locations in the brain where neurons are produced. While stress does not seem to obstruct the formation of new neurons, the cells created during periods of stress tend to die prematurely, with some only surviving a week.

The Impacts of Stress on Astrocytes

As the scientists at Neuro Drinks note, studies have determined that stressful episodes can cause astrocytes to shrink away or recoil from the synapses. This phenomenon can disrupt the connections inside the brain and affect the information transmitted from one cell to another.

In addition, further research has discovered that stressful events cause the overproduction of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which suppresses the molecular pathway responsible for creating a protein called GluA1. Without this protein, nerve cells and astrocytes cannot communicate.

The impact of stress on astrocytes can also affect neurons. As current research suggests, if astrocytes are unavailable, it can lead to the degeneration and death of neurons.

The Generational Impact of Stress

While the effects of stress on the human brain have been documented extensively, there are also concerns about how it can have harmful repercussions on children. The team behind Neuro Drinks has noted that stress can even be passed on to children from their parents.

For instance, maternal stress has been linked with poor birth outcomes, including infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm birth. However, mothers are not the only ones who can pass on the consequences of stress to their children. The stresses experienced by a father can impact a children’s physical and mental health, as illustrated in one recent study that found the offspring subjected to minimal yet chronic stress exhibited a subdued hormonal stress response associated with psychiatric illnesses, such as PTSD.

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