Did you know that if you experience symptoms of stress and anxiety you are not alone! According to the World Health organisation more that 260 million of us experience stress disorders.
However, the approach we have to managing it can be really powerful. Can what we eat really help with our stress management? Absolutely it can.
Not only do the foods that we eat impact our levels of stress they can also assist with reducing our symptoms. Eating foods such as quinoa, lentils, turkey and chicken all contain an essential amino acid (meaning the body does not produce this) called tryptophan which is needed for our body to produce Serotonin – The Happy Hormone! Serotonin is a chemical messenger that plays an important role in our mood, our behaviour, energy levels and even our sleep cycle.
We have another important hormone, Cortisol – The Stress Hormone! During times of stress cortisol is released and does have many important functions in the body. It is needed for our fight or flight response. Cortisol helps the body deal with the danger that is in front of us and when we have managed the situation our levels tend to regulate. However, this is not always the case and the body can create too much cortisol which leaves us in a heightened stress level. Constant high levels of cortisol can have an impact on weight gain, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, high insulin levels plus many more conditions. Studies have shown that we are more likely to consume high fat and sugar filled foods when we have high levels of cortisol.
Dietary management is only one strategy that can help with our stress management. There is also scientific evidence to show that certain types of exercise lower cortisol levels and increase both serotonin production and release.
There are numerous studies that show the positive impact that meditation can have on reducing stress levels. Meditation rituals can also assist us with becoming more mindful about our food choices. Meditation is a very personal experience and can mean different things to different people. Some different meditation forms include breath awareness meditation, journalling, movement such as yoga or tai chi.
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