Stress is a very powerful force, yet it is so often overlooked. Could it be because most doctors don’t know how to measure it? (It is measureable by the way). Stress may be the biggest contributor to the decline of our country’s physical and mental health. Stress wreaks havoc in the body and the mind. It’s impact is felt throughout the entire body including the brain, digestive tract, heart, lungs, muscles, reproductive organs, bones and skin.
Managing stress is of high priority in achieving vibrant health. Nutrition and lifestyle play a huge role in effectively combating stress and preventing all the harmful side effects. Here is a quick look at how stress impacts the body, followed by strategies that help manage it.
The Effects of Stress on your Health: The physiological cascade that occurs in the body begins with the brain and impacts the endocrine system, specifically the adrenal glands, the glands of vitality and vibrance. These tiny two glands, teamed up with the brain, are responsible for the body’s response to all forms of stress.
The more stress the adrenals take on, the harder they have to work to maintain harmony within the body.
However, they can only take so much for so long before the rest of the organ systems start to feel the impact.
Stress causes secretion of cortisol, our main stress hormone and stress manager. Excessive stress triggers dysfunctional regulation of cortisol that over time has damaging effects on the body. Stress induced blood sugar and hormonal imbalances result in cravings, fatigue, depression, weight gain (especially in the midsection) and low libido. Chronic stress suppresses your immune system leaving one more susceptible to illness, infection and disease. Digestion is compromised, and ultimately shut down, during times of stress. This can cause or aggravate digestive disorders like IBS, colitis and stomach ulcers. Brain function is greatly affected, leading to problems such as insomia, headaches, anxiety and depression. Stress leads to muscle and joint pain, and even bone loss over time.
As you can see, stress is no joke. It is important to mention here that there are a few stages of adrenal burnout. (for more info check out www.drwilson.com ) The more severe health consequences occur with chronicly high levels of stress that go untreated or unmanaged. So, prevention is key here. I bet you are motivated to combat your stress now.
Some foods and nutrients that combat stress:
- Complex carbohydrates found in oatmeal, quinoa and root vegetables help balance blood sugar and boost serotonin for it’s calming effect when timed and eaten properly.
- Dark, green leafy vegetables are packed full of vital vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients supporting cellular health and overall harmony within all organ systems.
- Quality protein such as organic chicken, turkey, beef, and eggs stabilize blood sugar, provide steady energy and support adrenal function.
- Foods such as fish, flaxseed and walnuts provide omega-3 fats which are essential for proper nuerotransmitter function.
- B vitamins, the stress reducers, can be found in animal foods, whole grains, beans and nuts.
- Magnesuim, the calming mineral, is found in spinach, cacao, avocado, nuts/seeds, dried apricot and seafood
- Foods rich in vitamin C, the ultimate adrenal supporter, include citrus fruits, strawberries, goji berries, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomato and asparagus.
- Vital for brain and nerve function, foods rich is folic acid include green leafy veggies, bean sprouts, bananas, asparagus, berries, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits.
Foods to avoid when feeling stress and/or anxiety – caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed food and alcohol which all contribute to the release of stress hormones, cause imbalances in blood sugar and sex hormones, as well as leach vital nutrients from the body.
Lifestyle methods to manage stress:
- EFT Tapping
- Eat regular balanced meals and snacks
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise, but not too much; listen to your body and don’t push too hard
- Practice self-care: body work, massage, warm bath, yoga, meditation
- Be willing to change perceptions and attitudes about your life situation
- Breath work – spend a few minutes throughout the day breathing deeply from your belly
- Do what you enjoy, have fun
Stress is something we all face in this high-paced, over-stimulating world we live in. Finding balance and managing stress is of utmost importance in living an enjoyable, fulfilling and vibrant life.