April is National Stress Awareness Month!
Just what is stress? Stress can be different for different people. What might be stress for some – may not have the same affect for someone else.
However, everyone experiences stress from time to time. It’s a natural physical, mental and emotional response to experiences in our life. Things like work, family, friends, world happenings, accidents, health issues and the list can go on and on…
Some of the most common sources of stress are: money, job pressure, health, relationships, sleep deprivation and political climate.
Did you know that food choices can also cause extra stress on your body?
Here is a list of foods that can increase your stress… (which you may want to limit or avoid)
Sugar – when you’re stressed your body releases more cortisol, a hormone responsible to help manage both stress and bold sugar levels. When you eat foods loaded with sugar your blood sugar levels increase and the body must release more cortisol to help balance the blood sugars. Increased cortisol levels are a fat storing hormone that encourages fat especially around the mid-section.
Artificial sweeteners – can encourage the sugary food addictions – causing you to search for even more sweet foods. But just like sugar, artificial sweeteners trigger more insulin into your system (thinking a real form of sugar is coming) but since it is a fake sweet – once in the stomach there is nothing to create glucose, the blood glucose level does not increase and the excess insulin is left to float around since there is nothing for the insulin to work on. This encourages insulin resistance.
Refined carbohydrates – do not contain much nutritional value but have a big effect on increasing blood sugar levels. Things to consider beside the common pastries, candies, sodas, etc. are white items – white bread, rice, flour…
Alcohol – a glass of wine may help you feel more relaxed but more than one glass can add stress to your life. It can increase both blood pressure and heart rate and trigger stress like symptoms within the body. Plus alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns and impairs the deep sleep necessary to be refreshed.
Excess caffeine – too much caffeine overstimulates your adrenal glands and stimulates the nervous system causing an increase in blood pressure and heart rate – similar to stress.
Are any of these adding to your stress?
Selecting healthier foods can be an easy way to reduce your stress.
Choosing whole foods – foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, such as:
Grains – whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, quinoa, rolled oats, barley, bulgur wheat and faro
Nuts and seeds (unsalted) – almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Beans and legumes – lentils, chick peas, split peas, kidney beans and lima beans
Fruits and vegetables – all in their natural, unprocessed state!
Protein sources – fresh fish, poultry, uncured meats
Select less processed foods – try to move away from the pre-made and packaged foods. When you eat real foods you are eating foods that are naturally lower in sugar and sodium and free of artificial fats, flavors and fillers.
Just Be careful – when stressed, people often reach for the unhealthier foods yet these very foods can continue to add more stress on the body.
Not only will it supercharge your metabolism, but you will be reducing your stress!!!