The problem is NOT stress but how we DEAL with it
The problem is NOT stress but how we DEAL with it
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but seriously stress is not the problem, what can affect our health is how we react to stressful situations.
So the key is not to over react to stressful situations. But how on earth do you do that?? Not easy but we can start by supporting our adrenals, the glands that produce adrenaline, the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response, and cortisol, the hormone that helps us deal with prolonged periods of stress.
Cortisol and DHEA
Our adrenals produce these two hormones on a daily basis. When resources are running and the demands on our adrenals are too high for too long, the body prioritises cortisol at the expense of DHEA
1) Cortisol provides us with energy when we are running on empty by converting proteins into energy and stimulating the liver to convert amino acids to glucose
2) Keeps inflammation and allergies under control
3) Helps maintain blood pressure
3) Supports us through stress!!!
DHEA is the precursor to testosterone and oestrogen hence its importance role in keeping our libido up and in supporting women’s health and fertility. It also supports our immune system and helps prevent osteoporosis. As we age levels decrease and that’s one of the reasons why cholesterol levels tend to increase together with our body fat. I know…not fair at all!
Adrenal function and adrenal fatigue
Long lasting stress tends to be associated with demanding jobs but can also be caused by lack of sleep, strenuous exercise, illness or life being just too busy.
Cortisol also helps regulate our blood sugar in between meals so when we are not eating regularly or our meals are not balanced, our adrenals have to work much harder to keep us going … which in the long run can impair our resistance to stress!!
When cortisol and adrenaline are running constantly high, you may start feeling wired or anxious. But elevated cortisol can have more effects including:
1) Low immune function
2) low blood sugar
3) poor sleep
4) water retention
5) lowered insulin sensitivity
6) low levels of DHEA the precursor to sex hormones and therefore low libido and menstrual abnormalities as well as fertility issues. More on this next week!
If this goes on for a long period, our bodies may start showing signs of ADRENAL FATIGUE leading to less resistance to everyday stress….
Can we help the adrenals deal with stress?
Yes, we can and this is how: firstly with lifestyle changes and dietary changes but also seeking help from professionals that can help lower your stress and ensure you have the resources to deal with the inevitable things. This week we are offering a ?20% discount? on our Stress and Wellbeing consultations
- Avoid (or reduce as much as possible!!) all refined sugars (cakes, sweets, juices), refined carbs (white pasta, rice and bread, chips, crackers), caffeine (coffee, chocolate, cola drinks) and alcohol in your diet.
- If you drink, do so in moderation and with meals
- Green tea daily is OK as it is high in antioxidants but in moderation too
- A little dark chocolate should be OK but and the end of a meal to balance your blood sugar
- Identify any foods you react to and eliminate them to reduce the stress caused by the by the inflammatory response.
- Eat 3 BALANCED meals and 2 snacks a day.
- Balance your meals according to the perfect fuel plate: 1/4 of your plate for protein like chicken, beans, fish or eggs, ¼ for unrefined carbs like quinoa or brown rice and a ½ packed with a variety of veg, plus good fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds.
- Important nutrients to support your stress response
- Get adequate vitamin C as the largest concentration of this nutrient in the body is in the adrenal glands
- All fruit and vegetables, especially peppers, citrus fruit, kiwi, papaya, kale, broccoli, sprouts, strawberries
- And remember, the fresher the better as Vit C degrades over time.
- Eat a couple of raw fruit and/or veg a day as cooking reduces vitamin C dramatically.
- Glucose and vitamin C compete for the same transporter into the cells so it is advisable to avoid refined sugars, juices and sweets when eating foods rich in vitamin C
- Ensure you get plenty of B vitamins, especially B5 that supports the adrenal structure as well as the production of cortisol:
- Wholegrains including quinoa, wholewheat, oats and brown rice, meat, especially offal, poultry, fish including oily fish and seafood, mushrooms, hazelnuts, peanuts and avocado.
- Omega 3 fats from oily fish like salmon and sardines and flax and chia seeds as these health fats help reduce inflammation and the need for high levels of cortisol
- Co-Enzyme Q10 to help support the cell mitochondria where energy is produced
- Organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart, as well as in beef, sardines, and mackerel, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Chromium to help balance your blood sugar and reduce the demand for cortisol found in
- meat, nuts and seeds and wholegrains
- Magnesium to help you relax and produce cortisol
- Wholegrains, avocados, spinach, broccoli, green beans, sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, quinoa, black-eyed peas, artichoke and halibut.
- Consume adaptogens like ginseng and/or licorice tea which can help your adrenals adapt to current stress
- Add cinnamon to foods as it can help balance your blood sugar, which in turn requires less cortisol.
- Get adequate sleep and go to bed by 10:00 pm.
- Use stress management techniques
- yoga, meditation (the Headspace App is brilliant), breathing exercises, laughter therapy (watching a comedy, reading a funny book)
- Engage in light exercise.
- Walking, pilates, gentle swimming or cycling but nothing too strenuous as that can increase the cortisol demand and put more pressure on your adrenals
- Get daily exposure to outdoor light for vitamin D and/or increase the dose you are taking according to your current levels.
Hope this all makes sense but if it doesn’t or you have any questions, please get in touch!