Stress and the Digestive System

We have all suffered from stress at some point in our lives whether due to exams, work, a bereavement, an illness, children, divorce, financial troubles or other. Most of us when under stress instead of finding ways to relax tend to have more coffee, fizzy drinks and sweets to keep us going. When you are stressed the digestive system tends to shut down and you are not assimilating any nutrients. Therefore it is best to eat very light small meals through out the day.

Coffee, cortisol and stress

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands which is released in response to a person being afraid or stressed. In a ‘fight or flight’ situation in the old days the cortisol would be utilised as the person either fought or ran for their lives. Nowadays unfortunately we seem to be more and more stressed and cortisol is not utilised and too much remains in the body. Today we sit at our desk drinking coffee to keep going producing more cortisol and not exercising to get rid of it. Cortisol levels are high in the mornings and lower at night. It regulates blood pressure, helps the body to utilise glucose for energy. It sends a message to the liver to release stored glycogen to fuel the muscles and the brain. However too much stored in the body can result in weight gain, depression, mental illness, impaired memory and brain function. This is why too much coffee when stressed is not a good idea.

Juicing

Juicing is good for quick absorption of nutrients. It takes 15 minutes for the nutrients from a juice to hit the blood stream. This is very good in people that have digestive issues, are suffering  from an illness and their digestion is compromised. It is also good for people that are stressed as stress places a strain on the digestive system.  Juicing is also good as it includes raw foods packed full of enzymes that are lost during cooking. Juicing places less of a strain on the liver. Ideally fruit and vegetable juices should not be mixed together. Apples and carrots are the exception. Since a juice is very quick in hitting the blood stream it is important not to use too much fruit as this can cause a spike in sugar levels. Vegetable juices are best for people suffering from blood sugar problems. Fruit juices are high in sugar and can also cause weight gain as juicing removes the fibre.

Removing the fibre is what makes juices easier to be absorbed as your digestive system does not have to work hard to absorb the nutrients. Also in a juice you can pack larger quantities of vegetables than you would be able to eat. This means you are able to get more nutrients from a glass of juice.

Foods not to eat and foods to eat

Red meat should be avoided as it is hard to digest. Avoid all stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and all fizzy drinks. These will put pressure on the adrenal glands. Reduce your intake of refined white carbohydrates like white pasta, bread and all cakes and biscuits. Stay away from all dairy. No rich sauces.

Cook everything fresh from scratch. No ready made meals. You want to eat foods that are easier to digest like soups, sweet potatoes mashed, steamed fish and vegetables. Include more ginger, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, dandelion greens, broccoli, bananas, tofu, quinoa, millet, spelt, lentils, chickpeas, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds, oily fish like wild salmon and sardines. Try to eat everything baked, grilled or steamed. If you are particularly stressed I would recommend smoothies, juices and soups as these are probably the best foods when highly stressed.

Include more super foods into your diet like wheatgrass shots, barley grass and spirulina. Wheatgrass shots should be taken on their own. barley grass and spirulina you can add to smoothies.

I hope the above has helped. If you would like a bespoke nutritional and lifestyle plan please email me or purchase my online initial consultation.

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