All of us have stress in our lives. Stress is caused by many factors…a demanding job, family needs, financial strain, difficult exams, the list goes on. Fortunately, intense stress doesn’t last for very long, but comes and goes. It’s when stress becomes chronic or constant, that it has a far-reaching effect on our bodies and minds.
Chronic stress results in a disruption of digestion, a delay in reproductive and repair processes, priming of survival mechanisms for immediate use, and depletion of the body’s nutrients. The hormone, Cortisol, is popularly known as the “stress hormone,” and this increases dramatically when we are undergoing chronic stress. Cortisol causes higher insulin levels so, we crave sugary and other high-fat foods.
However, these are the worst possible foods that you could eat during stress. So, what are the foods to avoid eating during stressful conditions and what foods will help not hurt you? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article…
Foods to avoid during constant stress
There are certain foods you should avoid during constant stress:
- Caffeine: While most of us cannot do without our daily cup of coffee, drinking too much caffeine or caffeinated drinks can cause our stress to simmer. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing a rapid heartbeat and an increase in blood pressure. It also irritates the digestive system. Also, excess caffeine can interfere with sleep and cause dehydration, both of which result in decreased energy and frequent headaches.
- Alcohol: While a few sips of wine may seem relaxing, too much alcohol can increase chronic stress. Alcohol produces the same hormones that trigger stress and both alcohol and stress “feed” off each other. Researchers found that alcohol can actually prolong feelings of tension caused by stress and stress can reduce the pleasant effect of alcohol and cause cravings for more. Alcohol can also cause dehydration and interfere with sleep.
- Refined Sugar: Sugary foods are usually devoid of nutrients and cause fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels. This results in a brief sugar high followed by a crash. Foods high in sugar content can lead to irritability and poor concentration. They can also result in several mood swings.
- High-sodium foods: When you take in extra sodium you cause more fluid retention. This extra fluid puts more load on your heart, increases your blood pressure, and leads to bloating, water retention, and puffiness. This results in a draining of energy and an increase in stress level.
Foods to eat during constant stress
So, what are the best foods to eat when stress is running high or reaching a chronic level. A couple of them are:
- High-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods: Research shows that carbohydrates produce higher levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which causes us to relax. Lots of fiber, on the other hand is great for preventing late-night binging. Some examples of healthy foods in this category include baked sweet potatoes, minestrone soup, or boiled and sautéed vegetables over rice.
- Fruits and vegetables: While chronic stress weakens our ability to fight disease, fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants can boost our immune system. Carrots, for example, are a great source of the antioxidant, beta-carotene. Citrus fruits provide a lot of Vitamin C, another antioxidant that helps to reduce stress.
At Nelson Chiropractic, we treat our patients holistically and advise them on various aspects of life wellness, including how to deal with and reduce stress. So, if you are suffering from stress or any lifestyle issue, consider contacting us and we will help you to resolve your issues.
Now you know a bit more about what diet you should follow when suffering from constant and chronic stress. Take care of yourself and avoid it in the first place. If, however, you are suffering from stress, eat the foods that will help you.