When we experience stress, our body responds by secreting adrenal hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels giving the brain will have more glucose for energy. Simultaneously, excess cortisol encourages fat storage and weight gain. Research has shown that stress and elevated cortisol levels tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips.
Excess cortisol also increases appetite, suppresses the immune system, and accelerates aging. Many circumstances stimulate the secretion of cortisol mainly over-exercising, lack of sleep, ruthless dieting and stress at work or at home.
In order to maintain a healthy body balance during stress periods, try to:
- Caffeine found in tea, chocolate, sodas and coffee as it causes adrenaline release which in turn increases stress levels.
- Alcohol, another stimulant, which also increases the secretion of adrenaline resulting in increased tension, irritability and insomnia, and also limits the ability of the liver to remove toxins from the body which worsens the effects of stress even more.
- Simple sugars that provide a short-term boost of energy which later on result in hyperactivity, irritability, poor concentration, and possibly depression.
- Excess salts found in potato chips and crackers which known to cause emotional instability and a feeling of bloating resulting in additional stress and discomfort.
- Meals rich in good quality, complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, brown pasta, whole wheat bread or baked potato) as they trigger the release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which soothes you.
- At least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and focus on foods containing Vitamins B such as leafy vegetables, avocados and fish, Vitamin C such as oranges and tomatoes, and Magnesium such as peanuts, oats, and brown rice.
- Foods rich in fiber to keep the digestive system functioning; fibers are mainly found in legumes, fruits, vegetables, and in dried fruits.
- Around 10 glasses of water daily to keep your body hydrated and to be able to get rid of the body’s excess toxins which are caused by stress.
Never underestimate the unlimited benefits of long walks, body massages and treatments, yoga, and meditation that may relax your mind and make you less stressed.