Stress Relieving Foods: Eat your Stress Away

stress relieving foodsWhen the body is stressed, a lot of bad things happen in your body. The muscles tense up. It can cause you to breathe harder and your heart rate to increase. The hypothalamus in the brain signals the pituitary gland and the autonomic nervous system to trigger the process of producing and releasing the “stress hormones.”  What makes your body become more vulnerable to disorders and dysfunctions?

Stress Can Put Your Body in Turmoil

Stress can also make your body organs behave in a different way. The liver is stimulated to release more sugar. You can feel heartburn or acid reflux as the stomach produces more acids in response to stress. You may suffer from indigestion and your intestines may not absorb the nutrients from what you are eating.

Stress can also affect the reproductive system affecting the sperm and the testosterone production and causing sperm maturation and even impotence in men. Women may affect menstruation among teenaged girls, worse symptoms of PMS and menopause, and loss of sexual desire among females.

The Hormones Behind the Fight or Flight Response

The human response to stress is largely attributed to the surging of hormones from the adrenal glands that sit on the top of the kidneys, upon stimulation by certain neurotransmitters.  Adrenaline is called as “the survival hormone” as it stimulates the release of blood sugar (glucose) that is the immediate source of energy needed for fight or flight.  

Noradrenaline is the “immediate response hormone” that is released from the inside of the kidney. The cortisol is secreted from the external part of the adrenal gland after the adrenaline rush kicks in; it is a longer-term reaction hormone.

Proper Eating and Stress Reduction

Stress can make human cell age faster and become more susceptible to a lot of medical conditions. If, indeed eating the right foods can help fight stress, just like what Fiona Carruthers writes in the post Eating to Reduce Your Stress for Healthy Food – Advice Section, are you not interested what these foods are?

Here are some points from this article that are worth noting:

  • Alcohol and caffeine for stress relief: While a cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning and an alcoholic drink after a day’s work can stimulate the release of feel-good serotonin, remember that the benefits are related to the amount of stimulant you pump into your system. Like stress, alcohol and caffeine stimulate the release of adrenaline increasing tension and irritability.
  • Comfort eating:  For some reason, stress can also cause a person to seek “oral gratification,” such as eating. “For many there is a fine balance between eating more and eating less when stressed. People who eat more are often those normally trying to control what they eat. Being stressed leads them to lose control of their eating, which can in turn lead to more stress and so on.” Knowing this, control eating by doing something else – walk or swim – when stressed, rather than grabbing a big bar of chocolate.
  • Carbohydrates with low GI (glycemic Index): A steady supply of energy is important in maintaining a normal blood glucose level. This is best obtained from carbohydrate foods with a low GI as well as higher-fiber varieties. Sugary carbohydrates (with high GI) can boost energy fast, just as it can drop fast too. This can cause mood swings and irritability that actually mimics the symptoms of stress.
  • Protein foods: Aside from doing the regular functions of proteins, foods such as beans, lean meat, seafood and nuts are useful in regulating the blood sugar level.
  • Fats: This is the food type that is largely associated with cardiovascular disorders. While it is good to minimize the intake of fats, remember, however, that there are certain fats that are valuable in the body.
  • Stress-busting super-foods: What are the foods that can fight excessive stress? Here are what Carruthers suggests:  Water, porridge, bananas, red/orange fruits and vegetables, beans, lean meat and seafood, and nuts.
  • The antioxidants: Vitamins A, C and E as well as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc are essential antioxidants important in fighting the age-inducing free radicals. Each these vitamin and minerals perform a special function to keep the body protected from stress. All these can be found in a balanced meal.
  • The how and when to eat. Eating three full and balanced meals a day isimportant to ensure a sound supply of stress-busting nutrition. Don’t miss meals, especially the first meal of the day: the breakfast. Missing a meal will signal your fuel. That will make the body hoard and disrupt its energy supply.  

Eating the right foods in a balanced meal can tremendously help in easing your body of stress. You will likely be tempted to eat unhealthy foods when there isn’t much choice. To fight stress, especially when you have no time to cook, it is important to plan ahead to be able to stock up your fridge and pantry with the right food, condiments and sauces. Fighting stress isn’t that hard if you’ll pay attention to what you put into your mouth.

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