September 25, 2013
We all know that stress can be like a wrecking ball to the body. It depletes the nervous system, interferes with sleep, and has been the called the mother of all disease. Stress is, in fact, a complex set of responses that affect the central nervous system, the adrenal glands and the cardiovascular system. Whenever homeostasis (feeling peaceful) is threatened, the body begins the stress cycle. Stress affects our appetites, our world-view, and our intestinal health. It can cause depression and even adrenal fatigue if we stay stressed out frequently over a relatively short amount of time. Fortunately, there are 5 easy ways to stress-proof your diet so that you can stay happy, easy-going, and healthy!
- Drop the Sugar-Laden Snacks – When we feel stressed we often reach for sugar-laden snacks as a way to artificially induce seratonin in the brain – the ‘feel good’ chemicals that are released when we are happy. Cakes, cookies, candy, and other sugar-filled foods may make you temporarily at ease in a stressful situation, but stress-eating isn’t good for you in the long run. Eating sugary snacks interferes in your ability to make your own ‘feel-good’ hormones, as well as depletes the immune system and over stimulates the nervous system so it can make it harder for you keep calm and carry on. Even worse, sugar is a primary fuel for cancer.
- Reduce Caffeine Consumption – Caffeine is another big no-no when you are trying to stress-proof your diet. Caffeine in small amounts can offer energy, but if you are living off of double shot Espresso’s from your local coffee shop, your body could be in a constant state of agitation and ‘high-alert.’ Yerba Mate is often offered as a better substitute, but it still contains caffeine. Many teas do as well. Try substituting a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea in the morning with a high-protein diet and B vitamins for an energy boost without the caffeine crash and stress-inducing affects on your nervous system.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol is another stress-inducing substance you’ll want to avoid whenever possible. While it may seem like a glass of wine or two takes the edge, drinking can actually induce the stress response by stimulating hormone release by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. While moderation may mitigate this reaction in the body, it is best to steer clear if you want to create a stress-free diet.
- No Preservatives! – Preservative-filled foods are not a good way to keep your body stress free. These foods actually cause osmotic stress on the cells and can lower our pH to an unhealthy level, causing us to be more susceptible to disease. Eating organic, healthful foods actually does the opposite; it makes you less prone to a stressful response, even when you are faced with challenging circumstances.
- Include Nutritious Foods in Your Daily Diet – Fill your plate with foods that contain B-complex vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C for a real stress-fighting, power-packed nutritional army. One stress-busting mineral in particular, magnesium, can be found in foods like broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, navy beans, watermelon, Brazil nuts, and almonds. (Here are 16 magnesium deficiency symptoms). Additionally, it’s helpful to know that we excrete calcium in our urine when we are stressed, even though we need it to help with many important functions in the body. So obtaining adequate amounts of calcium in foods can be vital to stress-proofing the diet. Lastly, vitamins B and C help to reduce the physiological effects of stress on the body.