We all face a great deal of stress during our day to day living, with exposure to the internet and work almost non-stop, as well as more exposure to physical stressors like toxins and pesticides. So what can you do to support your body deal with stress.
As a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist I look at a client’s whole picture of health, including emotional and mental wellbeing, family history, and of course diet.
Sometimes we need more support in the form of counselling, exercise or medical help, but what we eat often overlooked when we need solutions for our stress.
Our stress response helps protect our life when we are threatened – this could be when faced with physical attack or danger, or a threat to our children, loss of an important job, or impact on our social status. Whatever the stress trigger is, the physiological response is the same.
When our brains perceive that we are in a ‘life-threatening’ situation the stress response is activated.
Cortisol is the stress hormone which activates our ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms, and these affect our digestion, hormones and immune system. Feeling stress means we’re ready to run from a danger, so the body turns attention to the ability to fight or run.
Cortisol is made in our adrenal glands situated on top of the kidneys and they work extra hard during times of stress.
When we’re stressed our digestive juices are slowed down, and the motility of the stomach muscles slow down, meaning food can pass into the small intestine partially digested. This can cause fermentation in the small intestine associated with excess gas, pains and bloating.
When the danger is over our body returns to normal, but when we’re under constant stress (chronic) then we struggle to get back to normal and issues can occur.
Apart from digestion chronic stress also negatively affects our thyroid, sex hormones and immune system.
Don’t forget about food and your diet when you’re stressed through your diet. Consult a health care professional if you’d like individual support with making changes to your diet. Look for a Registered Nutritional Therapist part of BANT to get advice for individual dietary changes.