We are currently living in such a fast pace environment; everyone wants an immediate answer and our daily demands are increasing by the second. Let’s face it living stress free is virtually impossible. Whether the cause of your stresses are work, home or financial eating the rightfoods can help to reduce the effects of stress on your body. When you become stressed your body releases an excess amount of cortisol. Cortisol promotes fat storage particularly around the middle, which can contribute to the development of android obesity (also known as an apple shaped body). Android obesity has been shown to be more dangerous than gynoid (pear shaped body) obesity as it is linked to cardiovascular disease, glucose intolerance and diabetes. Furthermore, high levels of chronic stress can deplete the body of certain nutrients and reduce immune functioning. Consequently, it is essential to try and eat in a way to reduce the release and implications of cortisol on the body. In this article I will share my top tips for controlling stress through nutrition.
The caffeine in the coffee contributes to the release of cortisol furthering the risks of android obesity. Research has identified a positive relationship between stress and anxiety and coffeeintake. It is unclear whether stress increases coffee intake or the other way around. However, what we do know is that if you swap your coffee for a herbal tea you can help to reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Eat a Rainbow
Although this is not a new notion it is extremely essential. As mentioned earlier stress can reduce our ability to absorb and utilise nutrients. Consequently, it is even more important to ensure that you are getting a variety of nutrients into the body in order to optimise utilisation. Make sure you eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day and be sure to mix them up daily to get a full range of antioxidants and vitamins. Green vegetables in particular promote the production of dopamine and seratonin which are responsible for mood.
Look After Your Gut
Stress doesn’t only induce weight gain and weight related diseases, it can also manifest itself in causing havoac to our gut and promoting digestive disorders. Looking after your gut by eating the right foods can help to reduce these risks. I recommend incorporating a variety of fermented and probiotic foods into your diet in order to support your healthy gut flora. Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, dairy and non-dairy yoghurts are all gut friendly foods.
As vitamin D can be difficult to get from the diet (particularly if you follow a plant based one), the sun becomes our best source. Our body actually synthesises vitamin D itself when exposed to UV rays. However, in the UK it can be difficult to get enough sun in the winter months and so I recommend supplementing with 25mcg per day. Vitamin D plays a cruical role in mood enhancement. You may be wondering why you often feel down in the winter and it could be that you’re not getting enough vitamin D (to be honest, the majority of us in the UK are deficient).
Reduce the Fast Stuff
Fast food often contains an enormous amount of trans fats, sugars and salt which can cause blood sugar spikes, contribute to weight gain and nutrient deficiencies. It can also contribute to low mood and lethargy which will only further exasperate your stress response.
Although there are so many more factors which can help to reduce the effects of stress, I’ve kept it to five in this article (or we’d be here forever). I highly recommend incorporating thesetips into your routines in order to help reduce the effects of stress on the body.