Stress: we have all felt it at some point of our lives. It is an automatic response developed by the body as a reaction to protect ourselves from our environment. The ‘fight or flight’ response is our natural alarm system for defence. Unlike our ancestors, nowadays we don’t need to worry about protecting ourselves from predators or other threats (fortunately!) but we still face other modern challenges that put the body through daily stress (meetings, work deadlines, bills, family …). Although this is inevitable, there are numerous studies showing how detrimental stress can be on both our body and mind and it is important to be mindful about it. Our nutritionists have shared a few practical tips that can help make our bodies healthier and stronger and as a result, less prone to the detrimental effects of daily stress.
1. Improve your gut health.
Research has shown that ongoing stress can negatively affect the healthy bacteria in our gut and as a result affect our entire system. 80% of our immunity lives in our gut – if we experience unusually high levels of stress, the blood flow to our gut gets affected and as a result we could be more prone to getting ill. Our Longevity programme is designed to also take out foods which cause the most inflammation in the body. It’s aim is to improve gut health and keep you healthy
2. Increase consumption of oily fish.
In an interesting study shown on The Truth About Food programme, researchers measured hormone levels in London cab drivers who have highly stressful jobs. When put on a diet of four portions of oily fish a week (a good source of omega-3 fatty acids), their stress hormones seemed to be down by 22% and their anti-stress hormone up by 12%!Add a variety to your diet including mackerel, tuna, herring, and salmon.
3. Eat a diet high in potassium and magnesium rich foods.
Eating healthy might seem like obvious advice, however, during very high periods of stress focus on increasing your intake of potassium and magnesium rich foods. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress and magnesium has been termed as ‘natures Valium’. Think of foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, avocados, bananas and even a bit of dark chocolate! Include some of these in your breakfast for a morning boost.
4. Check for allergies
Interestingly, research shows that some patients with seasonal allergies often report higher stress levels, mood dips, and depression when symptoms flare.The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to affect the immune system directly, possibly also making allergy symptoms last longer.
5. Drink water and tea
Have a glass of water first thing in the morning. Water is vital for hormonal function, blood sugar balance and elimination of waste – if these are not in control the body can be put under stress. When it comes to tea, L-Theanine, a chemical found in Green tea has been proven to reduce stress and anger.
6. Don’t over-exercise!
We always think of exercise as anti-stress, however, pumping yourself too hard may sometimes do the opposite, raising levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Think of mix it up! Do higher intensity workouts mixed with walking, swimming or yoga.