Every day we are confronted with various physical, emotional, physiological, chemical, food, or environmental stressors that we must respond to or adapt to. Whether it’s the stress caused by training, the pressure that you need to meet the deadline, the aggressive chemicals looming in the air or the correction of complex relationships, the way your body physically reacts to stress will always be the same – the same physiological systems will be involved , and the same hormones will be released. Although not all stresses are bad when we worry too much for too long, it can have serious consequences for our health.
When we face a perceived threat, our body's natural response to stress causes the hypothalamus, a tiny area at the base of the brain. From there, this alarm message is sent to the adrenal glands located at the top of the kidneys to secrete stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. While adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, an increased level of the primary stress hormone cortisol raises blood glucose levels. This is our normal, healthy “fight or run” response.
When we experience constant stress, this “fight or run” reaction will remain on. I worked with many clients who knew that they had stress, but did not understand how it affects their health, until they completed an assessment of the response to stress. These clients, like many of us, lived in conditions of chronic stress, and it is this constant reaction to physiological stress that contributes to various health problems, including:
stress distracts energy from digestion, often disrupting the absorption of nutrients and causing inflammation. The result is persistent symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn and constipation or diarrhea, as well as sensitivity to food and / or the environment.
Since chronic stress suppresses the immune system, it can increase the risk of infections and diseases, and it may be harder for you to shake them.
Chronic stress can break bone and muscle over time and increase the tendency to pain in the neck and back, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia or TMJ.
Chronic stress increases the risk of depression and contributes to mood changes, memory loss, foggy brain, migraines and sleep disturbances.
Stress-related hormonal changes can lead to the following effects:
- Decreased serotonin, sugar / carbohydrate cravings, and decreased mood
- Decline melatonindisturbing sleep quality
- Elevated levels of insulin, which reduces the ability to burn fat, especially in the middle
- Reduced thyroid functionwhich affects energy levels and the ability to effectively lose weight
Although it is impossible to completely and completely eliminate stress, there are several ways to better deal with it. While an effective stress management plan includes many different lifestyle strategies, a great place to start your best habits is your diet.
Practice mindful eating
Thanks to a modern dynamic culture, we have become experts in the field of fast, abstract and situational nutrition. Now, as never before, it is very important to slow down to realize what kind of food we consume and how it affects our body. Although many of us may not have enough hours, do your best to set aside 15 minutes for a continuous meal. Slow chewing, awareness of the foods you eat, recognizing signs of hunger and satiety, and treating food as an oasis can help you increase your enjoyment of your meal, improve digestion, and help you feel more satisfied with less bloating, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal problems. problems.
Be smarter with carbohydrates
Under conditions of severe stress, you may be tempted to “be treated” with unhealthy foods, especially highly processed, high in carbohydrates.,[i] Eating them provides a short-term sense of relaxation as hormone levels fluctuate. Stress also stimulates an increased preference for sugary, salty foods that are high in carbohydrates. But these foods can also increase cortisol levels by tuning a person to vicious and powerful malformations in both cortisol and appetite.
The higher and faster we raise our blood sugar, the more insulin our body produces. The more insulin we release, the faster the blood sugar drops, which can stimulate the release of cortisol – like an endless roller coaster ride. To stabilize your blood sugar, choose unrefined carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, zucchini, or other colorful foods.
Choose antioxidant rich foods
Antioxidants commonly found in a variety of fruits and vegetables are compounds that the body uses to help ward off potential damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. When too many of these free radicals accumulate in our system, this can lead to oxidative stress, which can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. One of the best ways to increase your antioxidant levels is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Strive for half your plate filled with vegetables at most meals plus 1-2 servings of fruit per day. Antioxidants are most common in these food groups, but they can also be found in spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, cocoa and some cereals.
Get your fish oil
Heart-friendly omega-3 fats found in fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as some nuts and seeds, can help reduce inflammation, stimulate healthy cognitive function, and regulate blood pressure. Omega-3s also play an important role in the regulation of neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which affect our motivation and mood. When we do not get enough omega-3, the cell membrane transporting dopamine and serotonin can be discharged or even block and can affect many functions throughout the body, especially our mood and sleep.
Keep track of your caffeine intake
While it is tempting to drink another cup of coffee, soda, or an energy drink to survive a stressful day, too much caffeine can aggravate feelings of anxiety and stress, as it increases cortisol levels when not to be done. For example, let's say you have a cup of coffee at noon (about 200 milligrams) by 8 o’clock in the evening. there will still be around 100 milligrams of caffeine in your system. Generally, when you consume caffeine every 8 hours, the amount of caffeine remaining in your system can be halved. Using the previous example, caffeine will linger on your system until 4 a.m., so try to reduce your caffeine intake by noon.
Focus on protein intake
Although it may take some time to implement some of these strategies, if you intend to focus on one thing at once, concentrate on getting enough protein. Protein not only helps stabilize blood sugar and energy levels, but also its main components – amino acids – help the body produce serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Adequate protein in every meal is also important for maintaining the muscle and immune system under conditions of chronic stress.
The Importance of Sleep
When you find yourself in a constant overload mode, the chances of a good quality sleep for 7-8 hours may seem impossible. Although lack of quality sleep can lead to inflammation, persistent weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, it can also affect our emotional well-being and how well our body responds to stress.
When customers are looking for ways to improve their sleep, the first thing to start with is with the intention of going to bed. Create a regime that reduces stimuli and maintains a restful sleep. Many of us spend our days fighting or running and expect to flip the switch as soon as we go to sleep. However, we need to create a procedure that signals our body about the transition to rest mode. Start by turning off all electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime. Screens emit blue light, which can increase cortisol and suppress the natural production of melatonin. Instead, spend this time talking with loved ones. Social communication has a serious effect on health and can even affect cortisol production.
Another way to improve sleep is with natural supplements such as Restore PM Complex. This is a nocturnal formula designed to help calm the mind and improve the quality and / or quantity of sleep. Some of its key ingredients include plant extracts, known for their relaxing properties and ability to reduce stress and improve sleep without causing morning weakness. †
- Valerian Root (Valerian officinalis) is thought to cause GABA production in the brain †
- Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) can reduce anxiety?
- Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) it was proposed to improve calm †
- German chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) may support a more restful sleep †
The neurotransmitter, which modulates the ingredients, helps calm, alleviates anxiety and improves sleep quality:
- Vitamin B-6, which is involved in the production of serotonin?
- PharmaGABA ™, which can promote the activity of soothing neurotransmitters in the brain?
- It has been clinically shown that L-theanine reduces stress and improves sleep quality †
- 5-HTP as a precursor to serotonin?
- Melatonin, a hormone involved in the regulation of our circadian rhythms (sleep / wakefulness)?
If you want to better understand how stress affects your health and well-being, consider assessing your stress response. The test gives an idea of how your body responds to stress and adapts to it, and includes an individual nutrition and lifestyle plan of action based on your unique profile to help you better respond to stress.
In Health, Anika Christ – Director – Digital Programming and Events – Lifetime Weight Loss
This article is not intended to cure or prevent disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. The use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the reader’s choice and risk.