Have you ever seen anyone, craving for salad after a long tiring day ? The answer is NO,
Have you ever wondered why ? don’t you think so after an exhausted day , your body needs healthy food instead of sugary , salty and fried meals which you often binge eat during stress.
It’s all because of nutritional psychiatry.
There are certain foods that can influence medical health conditions, thus worsening mood disorders like anxiety.
The effects of poor diet on our mental health are real, but we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions on the basis of evidence.
Let’s talk about how stress and food are related to each other .
What is stress?
In order to understand what stress might be doing to our digestion we first need to understand what happens to our body when we are stressed. Like animals, we are programmed to react to danger with a physical response, which is known as ‘Fight-or-Flight Syndrome’ and this response is how our cave dwelling ancestors would have reacted when confronted by a tiger. Without it, we would not have the energy to survive encounters with dangers.
If we are stressed, we might feel anxious, nauseous, teary, angry, or shaky. Sometimes, stress can cause our heart beat to beat faster. Adrenal glands also called suprarenal or glands of emergency secretes cortisol hormone which is involved in maintaining the heartbeat during stressful conditions. Additionally , epinephrine & norepinephrine hormones prepare the body during the flight, fright and fight . These have different effects on different organs like piloerection ( raising of hair ), increase heart beat , increase in rate of respiration , additionally they also stimulate the breakdown of lipids and proteins which lead to the formations of brain loving ketone bodies .
The hormones in our body are always striving for balance. They operate in relation to each other. There is a direct connection between the adrenal stress and the thyroid. If the body is in a constant breakdown state and is not rebuilding itself, then the thyroid might slow down in order to stop the breakdown of body tissue. Remember, the thyroid is in the control of the rate of metabolism in the body. If the thyroid slows down for this reason then it might show up in blood tests as low thyroid.
The relationship between stress and the digestive problem may not be a direct one.
For example - You don’t necessarily have an argument with your boss and immediately develop a stomach ache.
What we can say is that if someone is leading a propensity to develop digestive problems, stress can make the problem worse.
If the person then learns to relax and practices relaxation regularly, it can diminish the severity of the symptoms. Stress manifests itself mostly in the GI tract. Stress does mess with the stomach a little bit, but most of the responses occur in the intestines. Food stays in the stomach for about 30 minutes but takes from 48 to 72 hours to pass through the whole of the digestive tract.
Stress hormones slow digestion down, leaving food to fragment or stagnate and that can result in diarrhoea or constipation.
Stress can also upset the balance of the gut flora which keeps the intestines healthy.
Stress Management Strategies
The digestion is impaired if we are under stress because its energy is diverted to the organs and the systems, which are involved in fighting our stressors. When working on managing stress levels, we should take as much work off of the digestive system as possible.
Smokers must consider giving up smoking - which drastically depletes the body of nutrients and since it is toxic, it is another ‘tiger’ in our physical bodies .
People who do not exercise regularly should begin a regular exercise programme.
Poor blood sugar control is the second greatest stressor to the body after mental and emotional stress. The person should pay attention to managing the blood sugar.
Ongoing stress rapidly uses vitamin C. Foods that are high in this vitamin should be used. These include citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, strawberries and tomatoes.
Vitamin B5 directly feeds the adrenal glands. Foods that are high in the B vitamins should be used to relieve these conditions. A whole food diet will contain all the B vitamins.
Maintaining a good potassium to sodium ratio is very beneficial. Vegetables, especially the leafy greens, have higher potassium to sodium ratio.
Zinc and magnesium are minerals that are vulnerable to depletion during times of stress. Foods that are high in these minerals should be used. Wholegrain, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, shellfish, and turkey’s dark meat are all examples of these kinds of foods.
Specific fruits that lifts up your mood by bringing down cortisol levels -
- Fermented foods like idli
- Nuts and seeds
- Lentils and beans
- Dark chocolate
- Green vegetables
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