The food we eat has a critical role in how the mind and body work. Certain foods cause more stress while others relax the body and spirit. Stress is the body’s reaction to change. It requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. When we subject our bodies to stress or experience a perceived stressor, it is important that we look after our diet. The diet can play an important role in stress management. Certain types of foods increase the physical symptoms of stress, while others ease the physical manifestations of stress. Therefore, it is clear that specific foods should be avoided during stressful times and some should be eaten more than others.
One of them is sugar. Sugar is nothing but empty calories and is processed immediately after taking it, giving an immediate boost to the adrenal glands. You may feel good immediately after eating the sweets or sugary cakes. However, when we are stressed, the adrenal glands are already overworked and if our intake of sugar is high at this time it’s like putting them on steroids. Also, when we are stressed we tend to reach for the empty calories such as sugary junk food more. Our body has to use enzymes, vitamins and minerals to process the sugar. This leaches our body of enzymes, vitamins and minerals necessary for all important bodily processes and for keeping things like our skin, hair and nails healthy and keeping us free of disease. Over a period of time, a diet rich in sugar, drains our body of minerals and vitamins and becomes significant in making us even more susceptible to stress.
Another food that causes the adrenaline glands to have to work very hard is caffeine. Caffeine is present in fizzy drinks, coffee and tea. When we perceive ourselves to be under stress we very often ‘get through the day’ on coffee. This of course becomes a viscous cycle as our adrenal glands become more overworked and so we reach for the coffee again! We can also find that processed foods like bleached flour found in bread to a large extent have nothing but empty calories and are void of nutrients. These refined foods are also lacking in important things such as fibre. Our body needs fibre to help move food through the gut and help us expel waste and toxins effectively. These processed foods are often artificially enriched with nutrients, but it would be much better for us to have natural none processed whole foods, containing the nutrients necessary for health in their most natural and purest form.
Whole foods such as wheat, oats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are what we need to include in our diet, in a fresh and whole form. They will provide the nutrients and fibre that we need and will release energy slowly to the body rather than the highs and slumps we experience with processed, nutrient deficient food. A nutritious diet is what the body needs to fight stress. We are what we eat. By changing our approach to our nutritional habits, especially at times of stress we will go a long way is to building a healthy body and avoid adding to the stress we place on ourselves emotionally, financially and socially by avoiding nutritional stress!
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