Stress is often overlooked and deemed part of a normal life, however did you know that stress contributes to more illness and disease than smoking and alcohol combined?? Stress can affect your digestion, cause headaches, disrupt hormone balance and sleep.

When you are under stress, your adrenal glands secrete a hormone called cortisol, which puts your body into response mode and helps you to deal with the stress. What happens when you experience chronic stress, is that your adrenal glands get depleted of cortisol, leading to adrenal exhaustion and fatigue.

Stress comes in many forms, the most common being long hours at work, deadlines and emotional turmoil. Other things that put stress on the body are excessive or intense exercise, chemical toxicity, eating the wrong types or foods, troublesome health conditions and high levels of pain.

The stress response

Stress is a normal part of life, and for some people lowering their causes of stress can be difficult. Your stress response is the way that your body reacts to stress. Some people find that they used to handle stress well but now they can feel the effects much more easily. This is because chronic stress depletes the body of what it needs to lodge a stress response. Support with herbal medicines and good nutrition can help you to deal with stress more effectively.

Remember to breathe

Studies have shown that yoga breathing (pranayama) reduces, stress, anxiety and depression. Pranayama focuses on slowly breathing into your belly, which encourages use of the whole lungs. Most people are shallow breathers, using only one third of their lung capacity.
For best results, take a slow, deep breath all the way into your abdomen, then slowly exhale all the way out, feeling your muscles relax as you exhale.

Take care of your adrenals

Your adrenal glands have a lot of work to do, so you need to keep them functioning at their best. More than one cup of coffee a day can lead to over stimulation of the adrenal glands, and although you will get a quick burst of energy in the long term your energy levels will be reduced.

To function well the adrenals need good levels of vitamin C (found in berries, kiwifruit, citrus, capsicum and pineapple), the amino acid tyrosine (almonds, avocado, banana, beans, meat and eggs), B vitamins (wholegrains, vegetables, legumes, egg yolk) and zinc (pepitas, oysters, ginger, seafood, wholegrains).

Eating well reduces stress

A diet balanced in complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats is essential to combat stress. Try these diet tips to make your diet work for you:

  1. Eat protein with every meal. Good sources are meat, fish, seafood, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts, seeds and tofu.
  2. Ensure adequate omega 3 in the diet. Good sources include mackerel, canned salmon, sardines, herring, snapper, linseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts.
  3. Use complex, not simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include brown rice, rolled oats, wholegrain breads.

Katherine’s top 10 stress busting foods

  1. Almonds
  2. Salmon
  3. Blueberries
  4. Turkey
  5. Oats
  6. Kiwifruit
  7. Organic eggs
  8. Linseeds
  9. Tahini

Naturopathic care is very effective in combating chronic stress. For appointments, call Katherine’s Brisbane clinic on 07 3367 0337.