Eating for stress part 2 - how diet can reduce the effects of stress




My last post was about whether specific foods can actually reduce stress levels (check it out if you haven't!)


This one is about what to eat if you're feeling stressed - to reduce the effects of stress, as well as the risk of chronic disease resulting from stress


We know stress can cause: - insulin resistance /type 2 diabetes - sugar cravings - fatigue - brain fog - dementia - weight gain - poor sleep - muscle pain - autoimmune disease - allergy - high blood pressure - heart disease - irregular periods - poor immune function - higher risk of some cancers


We also know that nutrition can have a significant impact on all of these:

  • highly refined carbs and added sugars cause marked blood sugar fluctuations, as well as weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, sugar craving and even muscle pain

  • High sugar, ultra processed, high saturated fat foods create systemic inflammation, which can worsen stress symptoms (see my post on inflammation and diet) These foods are also known to increase risk of most of the diseases listed above

Symptoms of chronic stress and inflammation are very similar, suggesting a common link - most likely that many stress symptoms are due to inflammation as well as the direct effects of cortisol and adrenaline Therefore logic (and science) suggests a diet that reduces inflammation can also help with stress Even though sugar and carbs are what most people crave when stressed, they're actually the worst thing to reach for, apart from as an occasional treat

A 'stress reduction diet' is:

  • low in refined carbs and added sugar

  • high in whole plant foods ie 'a rainbow', these are anti inflammatory, contain beneficial nutrients and phyto chemicals, and reduce the risk of chronic disease

  • low in saturated fat and red meat (both of which increase inflammation and risk of disease)

  • moderate in plant protein and unsaturated fat (which helps regulate blood sugar and energy

  • high in fibre, which helps blood sugar as well as appetite and inflammation

  • limited in caffeine and alcohol - they may make you feel better short term but can affect sleep, as well as worsening symptoms

If you are suffering from chronic stress, why not try making some simple changes to your diet in addition to trying to reduce stress levels - it really can help!

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