Hi Friends of Oompf, its Dr Naras Lapsys here. Today I am going to talk about Stress and what it does to your body.
Stress, Energy & Weight Management
Stress is a process by which we perceive and respond to certain events that we view as a challenge or a threat. Stress itself is natural and we need moderate levels of stress. Moderate stress allows our immune system to function properly, heal wounds and fight infection.
In response to stress, our adrenal glands produce cortisol. In a balanced state, cortisol plays a critical role in our normal healthy functioning. Cortisol promotes the burning of fat; it maintains our mood and it is an anti-inflammatory hormone helping us to fight infection.
The Consequences of Chronic Stress on our Health
Although moderate stress is a normal part of health, chronic stress has far more damaging consequences. Chronic stress and chronically elevated cortisol increase our blood sugar levels and insulin, putting us at higher risk of diabetes.There are strong links between raised cortisol, raised blood pressure and heart health. Chronic stress is associated with increased fat around the abdomen (visceral obesity) and the breakdown of muscle tissue. Bone mineral density can be reduced by chronically raised cortisol and stress. Food cravings, especially for sweet food and junk food is common. Chronic stress can impair memory and concentration. Sleep can be significantly impacted by stress and raised cortisol.
Stress and Diet
Eating patterns can be significantly impacted when one is chronically stressed. For some people, stress reduces their appetite. Under chronic stress, the body has an increased demand for fuel. Both fat and muscle can be broken down and some people experience significant weight and muscle loss. For others, the increased fuel demands lead to an increased intake of highly refined carbohydrates and sugar. People may also find themselves comfort eating and overconsuming food. The disturbed sleep often associated with chronic stress can lead people to overconsuming stimulants such as caffeine.
A Mindful and Healthier Approach to Eating and Fueling
Establishing healthy eating patterns when under chronic stress is an important first step towards healthy fuelling and a healthy weight. You must be well prepared and have the right types foods on hand when it is time to have a meal or snack. The following tips will help get you on the right track:
- Fuel yourself with unprocessed or minimally processed food. Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods such as brown rice and wholemeal pasta provide the energy that you require but in a more metered manner. These foods are more filling than highly processed foods and will help with weight regulation.
- Choose colourful seasonal foods, and where possible eat the skin. The skin contains valuable antioxidants that reduce the inflammation that accompanies chronic stress.
- Increase your intake of foods high in omega 3s. Wild caught fish, tinned salmon, tuna and sardines (in water or brine), cold pressed flaxseed oil, walnut and chia seeds are rich in omega 3s and are anti-inflammatory.
- Sip on green tea. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants as well as compound called l-theanine. L-Theanine is known for boosting alpha and theta brain waves, with anti-anxiety and calming effects.
If you have any diet or health-related questions, or topics you want covered, please feel free to contact me directly at: [email protected] I will do my best to answer your questions! I am available for face to face consultations as well as video conference, creating highly individualised diet and lifestyle plans to help you improve your weight, health and fitness goals.
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