A study that was published April 17 in the journal Psychiatric Services stated that an estimated 8.3 million American adults suffer from stress, anxiety and depression!
Stress is part and parcel of life and in balance can actually be healthy. It keeps us motivated, helps us get out of bed in the morning and can be a good warning sign that things aren’t working for us in our current everyday lives. It can encourage us to make positive changes. However, what happens when we simply can’t turn that switch off and stress turns into something chronic?
Our body has a very efficient way of dealing with stress. We release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which raise our blood pressure and heart rate and shift glucose from the liver into our bloodstream ready for our muscles to use. This is also known as the “flight or fight” response in our nervous system, the opposite to the “rest and digest”, which is associated with metabolizing and assimilating the nutrients in the food we eat as well as regenerating and repairing cells. Despite this intelligent response system, our prehistoric bodies are not used to being in a constant state of stress, which depletes our body of vital nutrients that are necessary for optimal health. The constant elevation of cortisol, our body’s stress hormone, can lead to prolonged levels of inflammation as well as weakening of the immune system’s defenses.
Did you know that managing your nutritional intake as well as daily walks and water intake can help this?
Your daily consumption of water should be half of your body weight in ounces per day. This does not include water in coffee, tea etcetera. Your brain needs the water in order to help manage internal stress and to function at optimal modes.
Taking a 20-30 minute walk a day assists with production of serotonin and dopamine. These are the feel good hormones and increase with a simple walk.
Balance your blood sugar levels
The human brain weighs just 2% of an average body's weight, however it is the organ that sucks up the most energy in the human body. The brain's preferred source of energy is glucose, a simple sugar that most of our food gets broken down into, to create a sort of energy currency in our body. 20% of the glucose travelling round our body gets directed to the brain and its functions. Now you can imagine why our brain is so sensitive to fluctuations in our blood sugar levels. When cortisol is released due to stress, our blood sugar levels are increased as our body prepares itself for “fight or flight”, which is why it is even more important to stabilize
our blood sugar levels when we’re chronically stressed to avoid fatigue, anxiety and low mood. Avoid refined foods like white bread, white pasta, white rice, pastries, cakes, biscuits, confectionery and fizzy drinks and replace with wholemeal bread and pasta, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and red kidney beans and other whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats
To put it simply, caffeine exhausts the “fight or flight” response by encouraging the release of cortisol, which as mentioned previously, leads to heightened blood sugar levels. Stick to one a day in the morning
Increase your Omega 3 intake
Our brain is the fattiest of all the organs in the human body; nearly 60% of it is made up of fat. Research has shown that our intake of these types of essential fatty acids can determine the integrity and performance of our brain due to the significant role they play in the health and synthesis of neurotransmitters, our brain's messengers that determine how we feel.