Guest post by Bastyr University Nutrition Studies Student Giedre Astrauskas
In today’s world, it is well known that many people are experiencing stress. Acute stress is generally quickly resolved and does not pose a great danger to our health. Chronic stress, however, such as stress from constant worrying, over-committing oneself, general day to day living, etc, can persist for a long period of time, perhaps even for years. In reality, stress doesn’t have to be just psychological, chemicals in the environment and food can stress out the body as well. Chronic stress unlike acute stress can cause a lot of unintended ill consequences to our health. Chronic or prolonged stress can weaken the immune system, increase inflammation, cause premature aging, lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, cause poor digestion, anxiety and depression, reduced fertility, poor sleep, and fatigue. Adrenal glands are responsible for making Cortisol which is a well known stress hormone. A continual release of Cortisol can wreak havoc on the body and cause hormonal imbalances. In the end, prolonged stress, thus continuous production of stress hormones, can wear out the adrenal glands and can cause severe fatigue. Feeling fatigued is not the most desirable state to be in when one has a busy schedule with many responsibilities. Luckily, there are ways to take care of the body to help battle the negative effects of stress, fatigue, and help bring the body back into balance.
Here are some ways to start supporting the stressed out body and mind:
• Balance blood sugar levels. For example, eat small frequent meals that provide protein, healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
• Avoid caffeine and/or other stimulates such as energy drinks. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, consuming stimulants makes the adrenals more tired as they have to work harder. Stay well hydrated with water or herbal teas to prevent fatigue from dehydration.
• Consume more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids, meaning they must come from the diet. They help to reduce inflammation that occurs during stress. Dietary omega-3’s can be found in seafoods, grass-fed meats, walnuts, flaxseeds, fish oil supplements.
• Get adequate sleep each night, this helps to reset stress hormones.
• Physical activity such as walking or yoga can help to energize the body without wearing it out such as other more vigorous exercises.
• Most important of all, try to find ways to reduce stress when possible. Make time to do things that you enjoy to lift mood and spirits.