Following a week of mania in the world of Total Nutrition, this blog is all about supporting yourself through stress. We all get those periods in our lives – in some cases we know in advance and can do a bit of planning however in others they just hit us: whether it’s moving house, emotional turmoil, getting married, arrival of family/friends or a presentation/work deadline. Supporting yourself nutritionally throughout this process should in turn support your internal management of the stress process.
The body’s reaction to stress is highly complex and starts in the short term with the release of adrenalin and then in the longer term cortisol. These hormones are important to ensure that we have the capacity to get away from physical danger called the ‘fight or flight’ response; however with the world we live the medium to long term exposure to these hormones can be damaging to health. These hormones have powerful internal reactions which over time – raises blood sugar levels, impacts on digestion, heart rate increases, calcium is released from bones and adversely affects cholesterol levels. With the body having to contend with all of these reactions as you can now see supporting yourself nutritionally is so important, top tips are as follows:
• Although you might be craving stimulants you need to reduce and remove. The body has been stimulated enough by adrenal and cortisol so does not need help from sugars, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or drugs of any kind.
• Eat three well balanced meals a day with two small snacks in between consisting of palm sized piece of protein, two vegetable or fruit portions (size of a medium apple) and a portion of a complex carbohydrate (mug full of the brown kind e.g. mug of brown pasta or rice).
• Based on the meals and snacks above focus on hitting your 8-10 a day of fruits and vegetables, your body will be using up precious vitamins and minerals and these need to be replaced.
• Nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish are important to support the affects stress has on cholesterol levels.
• Don’t forget your 1.5 litres of water to ensure you don’t get dehydrated – the skin can often be adversely affected by stress so keep those toxins flushed through!
• Weight bearing exercise is the most affective support to the body physically as it manages these stress hormones within; however any exercise, even a walk, will help.
Finally any relaxation techniques would be wonderful: meditation, yoga, your pet, music, reading or spending quality time with the kids – manage the stress as best you can and remove where possible anything adding to the stress burden.