Stress and anxiety – Can’t Sleep! Stressed out! Low energy! – is this you?
We need ‘stress’:
to survive, to motivate us and to give us a purpose to life! ‘Stress’ helps us to operate at peak performance but long term constant stress causes changes to the brain and the way we adapt to stressors.
Stress and anxiety affects the functioning and response of areas in the brain, particularly the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala and if there is no intervention to reduce the stress load, lack of brain adaptibilty occurs and our long term health can be badly affected
So what is stress?
Stress can be defined as, ‘a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation’ Stress can initiate what is termed the “fight, flight or freeze” reaction, which is a complex response of stress hormone production.
Individuals Respond Differently to Stress and Anxiety
How susceptible we are to stress will depend on many factors; our genes, environmental factors, early life experiences, nutrient status, social circumstances and of recent times it has become clear our bacterial population housed particularly in the intestinal area are all responsible for how we respond to stress. These factors have been shown in studies, to change the development and functionality of the neural pathways in the brain and thereby our ability to manage the life stressors of the 21st century.
Food, the Intestinal Health and the Stress Response
Studies suggest we can change the stress response in the brain by the type of microbes we house in our ‘Gut’. In a beautiful quote from, ‘The Psychobiotic Revolution’ Anderson, S. (2017) suggests “Our evolutionary history, which included very few pastries rolling across the savanna, didn’t prime us for glazed doughnuts. We are inadequately prepared for this temptation …….the bacteria that crave sugar are not the ones that support a good mood.” The bacteria and microbes that live in the intestinal area, influence our food choices, our mood and our management of stress See more information
Of recent years studies have shown that stress changes eating patterns and the current high consumption of ‘hyper-palatable’ refined foods can lead to changes in the brain that encourage compulsive eating behaviours and lessen the secretion of hormones that regulate appetite. In this way ultra-refined, flavour enhanced foods can lead to metabolic changes that promote increases in weight, body fat mass and stress.
Recent scientific studies also show regular eating of foods rich in trans-fat can increase despair and anxiety and in connected studies a strong link has been shown between diet and emotions, where a high fat diet increased the permeability of the lining of the ‘Gut’ in a similar way to long term stress and this influences the type of bacteria that dominate in the ‘Gut’ which further exacerbates the effect of stress. Here you can see there is a vicious cycle occuring.
A Big Part of the Answer?
Research studies show that stabilising blood sugar by the way we eat, eating food in the way nature intended, increasing nutrients like magnesium, B & C vitamins etc., including probiotic and prebiotic foods regularly in the diet can all reduce emotional symptoms, anxiety, depression, stress and improve physical symptoms such as pain. What we eat and when we eat are now known to make a huge difference to stress hormone production and how we feel mentally and physically.
With all these facts in mind Nicki Williamson and myself (Jane Rose-Land) are providing a De-Stress Workshop at The Green Britain Centre, Swaffham on Saturday the 28th April 10:00-4:30. click through for more information. Nicki will be providing relaxation tools and NLP techniques and I (Jane) will provide eating, food and nutrient information to help you manage your stress safely.
The course content:
- Relaxation techniques & practice
- NLP techniques to help you take back control, reduce anxiety and balance mood
- The importance of stabilising blood sugar for stress management and reducing stress hormone production.
- The nutrients that are required to support a healthy response to stress and reduce its impact on the body and mind and what to eat to increase these important nutrients.
- How the ‘Gut’ is actually the second brain and the link between the health of the digestive system and its affect on our response to anxiety and depression
- Meal planning to incorporate foods and eating patterns to balance blood sugar, to increase stress supporting nutrients and to increase microbes in the ‘Gut’ that confer a health benefit to the brain and the stress response.
A healthy lunch will be provided and tea and coffee during the day.
Stress Definition: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20104. Accessed March 2018
Ewan B. (2008) Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators, Eur J Pharmacol. 583(2-3): 174–185.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2474765/ Accessed March 2018
Foster J, Rinanan L Cyan J (2017), Stress and the Gut Brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome, Neurobiol Stress. : 124–136 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5736941/Accessed March 2018
Sancini A, Ricci S, Tomei F, Sacco C, Pacchiarotti A, Nardone N, Ricci P, Suppi A, De Cesare D, Anzelmo V, Giubilati R, Pimpinella B, Rosati M, Tomei G (2017) Work related stress and blood sugar levels, Ann Ig Mar-Apr;29(2):123-133. doi: 10.7416/ai.2017.2139. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28244581 Accessed March 2018
Yau Y & Potenza M (2014) Stress & Eating Behaviors, Minerva Endocrinol. 38(3): 255-267 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/ Accessed March 2018