Healthy Nutrition: Keep stress under control

July 15, 2014 

We buy certain oil for our vehicles, pamper our pets and spoil children without hesitation. But we get ourselves cheap food and likely refuse to pay extra for nutritional supplements. Aren’t we worth more? Don’t we value ourselves? We deserve better.

Health and wellness should be a priority to everyone. Self-care is crucial. Cleansing whole foods are necessary. Stress reduction is essential. Massage, meditation, exercise or a visit to the local salt spa can induce tension release. Managing unavoidable situations in life that stimulate ongoing stress responses, through deep breathing and supplementation, is vitally important to keep cortisol levels in the body low.

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, produced by the adrenal glands atop the kidneys, increases sugars in the bloodstream. While cortisol is needed for brief fight-or-flight responses, prolonged periods of activation may mean anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and/or memory and concentration impairment are imminent.

Foods that increase cortisol and should be avoided include: caffeine found in soda and coffee; processed white foods like bread, rice and pasta; and sugary options, such as candy, cake and chocolate. On the other hand, you should drink a lot of water and eat green vegetables, walnuts and citrus fruits.

Chronic stress is harmful both mentally and physically. It can make you feel extremely fatigued or overwhelmed with the smallest tasks. We simply need to off-load the things that stress us out or learn to cope with it. Diseases present themselves and progress faster, and recovery is slow (if at all) when constant worry is present. To make matters worse, dangerous lifestyle choices may add to this downward health spiral.

We have professionals who do everything from painting the house to mowing the lawn, but we are not as familiar with self-care specialists. We need to take care of ourselves as regularly as we tend to everything else. Try a new stress-relieving technique and don’t forget to take your daily multivitamin and probiotic.

Becky Long is a health coach, guiding people with easy, sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes based on individual goals. Her coaching practice, Healthy Nutrition Knowledge, can be reached at 610-462-7711. Visit www.healthynutritionknowledge.com for more tips.

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