If you are struggling with your weight, or if you seem to lurch from one cold or illness to the next, you might just be suffering with stress to your system.
Your body has evolved over thousands of years to be better at surviving in hostile environments. unfortunately we haven’t had the same time to get used to our comfortable modern lifestyles. So when you undergo a stressful event, be that at home, on the drive to work or while at work, your body will react pretty much as it did ten thousand years ago.
When you experience stress (and dieting and calorie restriction can fall into this category) your body increases it’s levels of a hormone called Cortisol. this hormone has been designed to prepare your body for danger in the times when being ready for danger meant the difference between living and dying. As cortisol levels rise your body prepares itself by shifting calories to be stored as fat, especially around the midsection (in preparation for that lean winter your ancestors might have faced). Your immune system is also compromised (why fight a cold when you’re bleeding to death from an animal bite) so you become more susceptible to infection. Most importantly, cortisol increases your blood pressure thereby increasing your chances of heart problems as you go through life!
So what causes this? Working long hours, stressful conflict led lives, excessive exercise without proper rest and nutritional recovery and lack of sleep (less than seven hours a night has been shown to increase levels of cortisol). In fact the typical modern lifestyle we tend to live these days.
So what can you do about it?
As well as getting regular sleep and cleaning up the stresses in your daily life here are several nutritional strategies you can employ to good effect to reduce levels of cortisol and give yourself the of losing that spare tyre;
- Salmon. Alaskan wild caught salmon is high in levels of Magnesium which can control cortisol levels
- Oats. A relatively clean source of carbohydrates that can boost levels of the ‘happy’ chemical Serotonin in the which have a calming effect and lower levels of cortisol.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is great at lowering stress on the body generally.
- Walnuts. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acid which can lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich sources of these healthful fats.
- Green Tea. The Active ingredient, Theanine can help lower cortisol and the antioxidant profile in green tea are positively brimming with benefits. To maximise the action and availability of them, pop a slice of lemon in your tea. The lemon increases the lifespan of the antioxidants in your system, allowing greater bioavailability
- Supplement. Taking Ginseng and/or Rhodiola Rosea have the effect of lowering the various stress hormones in your body.