Health & Stress : Why We Eat What We Eat?

While the foods you choose to eat when under stress might give you a momentary reprieve, they will increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol directly.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone produced mainly in the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. We also produce it in our individual fat cells and the liver. We’ve come to know it as the “stress” hormone, because chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high and lead to many negative effects. Elevated cortisol relates to chronic stress – the feeling that life’s demands are greater than your ability to meet them.

There are some foods that a person should eat in order to reduce their stress levels. There are also foods that should be avoided. The biggest ones to avoid are foods with high sugar and caffeine, these are often referred to as the dynamic duo of trouble as the caffeine will make you jumpy and jittery and the consumption of sugar will make you crash. Avoid energy drinks and sweetened coffees such as vanilla lattes, instead drink a cup of hot cocoa made with pure organic cocoa and no sugar or have a tall glass of warm skimmed milk. These foods will help fight stress and induce a calming feeling.

Avoid sugar completely

It seems natural to turn to a sweet treat when stressed however it increases the levels of cortisol. The blood sugar and insulin spikes increase the stress on the body. This can lead to sugar crashes and an increased appetite. If you are after a sweet snack indulge in an ounce of very dark chocolate. The cocoa contains flavonoids, which have relaxing properties, and phenethylamine, a mood enhancing chemical.

Processed Foods

Why avoid processed foods you might ask? Well, processed foods because they are high in sodium, fat and artificial additives that have no nutritional value at all. These processed foods can actually increase the stress levels. If you are after a snack, do not grab the nearest packet of crisps. Rather indulge in a handful of walnuts or sunflower seeds. The walnuts are known for lowering blood pressure in those whose hearts work overtime, sunflower seeds are a great source of folate which increases the dopamine levels in the brain.

Food affects many aspects of our daily lives and our bodies.

It is important for us to choose what we put in our bodies in order to get the maximum out of our bodies. Remember that processed sweetened food can make you feel better for a very short time but the adverse effects on the body last much longer. Stock up on nuts, carrots, apples and easy to reach healthy snack foods for the office or when you are out and about.

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