In order for our nervous system to truly relax, so do we! If we don't, our stress can destroy our health. The body is CLEVER. When your body feels danger (like being attacked by a woolly bear or being screamed at by your boos) – the part of the brain that controls fear doesn't know the difference. And so our repair mechanisms within the body that kill cancer cells, fight infections and yes, my favourite, slow the ageing process, shut down during periods of stress. And how many of us are actually stressed all day long……?!
Eating the right foods plays a huge part in managing stress levels and is one of the easiest ways to manage your stress. Eating wholesome and healthy foods will boost serotonin levels which calms the brain. Health foods also build up the immune system and lowers blood pressure which both contribute towards your stress levels. If any of the following seven points ring true for you then you are more than likely stressed and need to re-evaluate your diet.
1. You have backaches and headaches.
If your cortisol levels stay high over a period of time, you probably have adrenal fatigue which increases the body's sensitivity to pain – back pain, muscle pain and even headaches.
2. Your sleep is broken or you simply can't sleep well.
At night is when we're supposed to allow our bodies to relax and restore, but if your cortisol levels are too high, you end up tossing and turning all night and feel tired again the next day. OR hands up if you do sleep well but you still wake up tired? If so, those high levels of cortisol are depleting the adrenal glands which in turn predisposes you to chronic fatigue.
3. You're gaining weight.
Even if you're eating well and exercising, you can't seem to shift the weight and/or you're gaining it around your belly. Yup, once again that's cortisol. It tends to make you thick around the middle and store those last 5 pounds…. even if you're doing everything right!
4. You always seem to catch ‘the' cold that's going around.
Your body's immune system is deactivated with too much cortisol and that in turns leaves you prone to infections and colds.
5. You crave the ‘bad' foods.
Yup, this one too! That nasty cortisol raises your blood sugar, then the high glucose levels raise your insulin levels which in turn drops your blood sugar! So, you're back to craving the ‘bad' foods over and over again.
6. Your gut goes nuts.
The stress hormone cortisol heightens the sensitivity in your gastrointestinal system. So things like heartburn, cramps, constipation, feeling sick or diarrhoea are a result of too much cortisol.
7. You feel blue.
Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol reduce the production of serotonin and before you know it, you're feeling gloomy.
So, if any of these sounds like your life you need to take a close look at the foods you are eating on a daily basis. Try to make gradual changes to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods and raw foods such as nuts into your diet. Steering well clear of processed foods will also help you manage your stress and should be the first step you take!
Once you have your diet under control, you will soon notice your energy levels go up whilst your stress levels decrease!