Feeling Stressed? Food Could Be Aggravating The Situation

walnut by Erich Ferdinand

Feeling a bit stressed? Maybe what you ate today is aggravating the situation.  Avoid the following when you know your day is going to be difficult or life starts feeling stressful:

  • Tea, coffee, cocoa, energy drinks
  • Fast foods
  • Milk
  • Meat, Fish and Poultry
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Soda, soft drinks and chocolate drinks

When you are following the metabolic balance plan, you will not be drinking soda or eating fast foods but coffee, nuts, butter and cheese may be on your plans.  Why avoid these foods?

Coffee –  the caffeine in coffee increases your stress hormones (catecholamines).  The stress response releases corisol which increases insulin.  Insulin increases inflammation in the body.  Here is an interesting research study that shows that daily doses of caffeine builds up a persons tolerance but does not eliminate the stress response.

Fast Foods –  Fast foods are highly processed, high in fat, sugar, or salt.  Stress may mess up our brain’s reward system or cortisol may cause us to crave more fat and sugar.  By putting fast food on your no eat list, you will help make sure Fast Food is not messing up your built in reward system. You will also avoid gaining extra weight which is a stressor for many adults.

Milk It seems that the issue with milk may be a specific sugar, D-galactose. Even a low dose of D-galactose has shortened the life span of test animals through oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes.

Meat Fish and Poultry –  The study found that omnivores mood was changed much more by their food intake than vegetarians.  The study suggests a dietary ration of long chain fatty acids may have an effect on mood. If you are feeling stressed or want to feel a bit more emotionally balanced reduce the amount of meat in your diet.

SugarAlthough current research has explained why we crave sugar when stressed wait fifteen minutes before grabbing something to eat. According to this article, Keep your environment as positive as possible so you will not be tempted to eat sugar. Cravings will peak in 15 to 20 minutes so if you can distract yourself you may be able to avoid consuming sugar and allow your body to react naturally to stress.

Alcohol – 

When you feel stressed, eat nuts with one of your meals.  Here are two studies which talk about how two specific types of nuts help your health:

Pistachios may lower vascular response to stress in type 2 diabetes.

Walnut rich diet may reduce stress and bad cholesterol (If you buy them whole, you can also have the fun of cracking open the nuts with a German nutcracker like this:

Want to know more about stress and nutrition? Penn State is currently researching stress and nutrition if you want to participate as a volunteer. They are currently Current examining the effects of walnuts, canola oil, fatty acids, and culinary spices on cardiovascular responses to stress and vascular endothelial function.

Photo: Walnut by Erich Ferdinand

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