We totally hear you. The good news is we all know how the body manages stress. And if we know that, we know there's a way to control it, right?
Exactly. It's the responsibility of your adrenal glands: the body's agony aunt. They sit just above your kidneys and deliver vital hormones (like adrenaline, cortisol, and something called DHEA) to help your body cope with any kind of stress life throws at you.
(DHEA, by the way, is more interesting than it sounds. It's sort of... not quite estrogen, and not quite testosterone. BUT, would you be interested to know that it contributes to lots of metabolic functions - including helping to increase muscle mass, and decrease fat? Or that helps it prevents osteoporosis? What about how it builds up your resistance to all kinds of viruses, bacteria and allergies? Wow. Go DHEA!)
Obviously, if these helpful glands start to feel under the weather, they'll stop distributing these hormones so well (or start distributing some of them lots more!). This can do all sorts to your body: it could make you feel generally run-down, make your sleep less restful, and can actually make you more susceptible to illnesses as it will affect the efficiency of your immune system. And that stress you're feeling worn down by? It's going to take its toll on you a whole lot more than you may ever have realised...
(Talking of stress.... here's a snippet about cortisol - not sure it is even possible to give just a snippet, but here goes.... Cortisol should be such a helpful hormone! It helps your body turn proteins and amino acids into energy, reduces the effects of inflammation and allergies, helps maintain good blood pressure, and chips in when you're stressed. If you're getting what you should be cortisol-wise, you're on your way to a life that's less stressful... unless that is you are producing way too much cortisol over long periods of time.... now this is where all the problems begin and unfortunately there are plenty of them)
Has stress or overwhelming tiredness taken control of your life? Is caffeine your new best friend? Or perhaps all you fancy eating are foods high in sugar, fat and salt? Does everything appear to be too much effort (even sex!)? Do you even remember what fun is!?
So, it's the constant release of cortisol that can interfere with things like... having a life! Increased cortisol can affect things like memory, lowering immune function, decreasing bone density, increasing the risk for depression, increasing weight, increasing blood pressure and cholesterol and even contributing to heart disease..
But fear not, it's pretty easy to give your AGs some love. Here's how:
- Skip the bad stuff once in a while. We're talking refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol - stimulants prevent the absorption of magnesium, which will then deplete over time, and your adrenal glands need plenty of magnesium (and vitamin c - they especially love vitamin c!)
- Try eating smaller meals, more regularly. Oh, and make sure you eat lots of protein... these things should help to keep your blood sugar balanced - which when it isn't will cause you to have a stress response without you even realising it
- Figure out what you're allergic, intolerant or sensitive to, and don't eat that. You need to be reducing things that increase inflammation and this is one of them. Speak to us or your regular nutritionist to find out more.
- Breathe, laugh, and cry. Not at the same time. What we mean to say is: let your emotions do their thing, and don't hold anything in. Pent-up stress is stressful!
- Go outside and exercise a bit. We're not on about triathlons, just a walk or a bike ride or something. You'll get vitamin D, you'll feel better, and your sleep might improve too... in fact, talking of improved sleep...
- Get better sleep! Find out how to do that here. Lack of sleep contributes to stress and inflammation in a big way, huge..
If you give these a go, your AGs will feel better in no time!
Let us know how you get on, and you could win something (not sure what yet!) :)
Thanks for reading,
Aprés Food Co.