Is stress the missing link in resolving your health concerns?
We sometimes underestimate the massive impact that stress can have on our health. Whilst short term stress can be useful to help you survive a dangerous situation, such as running out of a burning building, long term chronic stress is bad for our health. In our modern, busy lifestyles a lot of us are in a state of chronic stress.
We often know the tell tale signs of stress – whether it’s not sleeping well, getting headaches, feeling anxious, having diarrhoea or more frequent urination. But stress can be behind a whole host of other symptoms too such as lethargy, lack of motivation, memory and concentration problems, weight gain, low immunity, changes in appetite, hormonal imbalances and digestive problems.
What happens in our body when we are stressed?
This is because when we are stressed, we release cortisol our stress hormone. Cortisol is designed to help you survive immediate danger, so it dampens down other systems in the body that are seen as not essential. This includes reducing the strength of your immune system and digestive system.
Some of the raw materials used to produce cortisol are also used to produce the sex hormone progesterone. In a stressed state, the body will give these raw materials over to cortisol production. This means your progesterone levels can drop, leaving you in a state of oestrogen dominance. This fuels conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids. Progesterone is also needed for supporting the early stages of a pregnancy.
Vitamin C is also needed for cortisol production, so when stressed our vitamin C levels are often low, leading to poor immunity or fatigue.
Cortisol increases inflammation in the body, so worsening any existing inflammatory health conditions such as endometriosis or inflammatory bowel diseases such as crohn’s or colitis.
So, stress really can be the missing link in any chronic health conditions and whatever steps you can take to reduce the impact of stress can help support your health.
There are foods we can incorporate into our diet to help reduce the impact of stress:
- Vitamin C – this gets depleted by stress and is important for our immune health, reducing inflammation and energy levels. Good sources are peppers, berries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, broccoli and kale.
- Magnesium – known as nature’s tranquiliser, this mineral supports the nervous system, relaxes muscles, helps with sleep and energy levels. Magnesium is found in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and dark chocolate.
- B vitamins are needed to support the nervous system and provide energy. They are found in meat, fish, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and vegetables.
- Reduce caffeine as this can increase cortisol levels. Instead try calming teas such as chamomile, valerian and passionflower.
- Reduce alcohol as this can increase cortisol, anxiety and affect sleep quality. Try smoothies to give you some stress supporting vitamins and minerals or kombucha to support your healthy gut bacteria.
As well as dietary and supplement support, lifestyle factors are just as important in reducing the effects of stress. Try to build something relaxing to lower your cortisol levels into your daily routine. Start off doing 10 minutes a day and then try to build it up. This could be taking a walk in nature, doing some yoga or having a soak in the bath. Here are some ideas of activities that can help.
If you feel like stress could be behind some of your health concerns and you would like some help in moving forward, then do get in touch. I offer free, no obligation discovery calls to discuss how nutritional therapy may be able to help you.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.