OK, now that Halloween is over and my lawn ghosts and cackling witch on the porch have been put away, it’s official—the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season is upon us.
And you know what that means.
Shopping, decorating, parties, cooking, cleaning, visits from relatives, travel, baking, wrapping, card writing.
Now, stress certainly is not limited to holiday time. Even in the absence of the holidays, stress is a major part of our lives. Heaven knows so many of us are in demanding jobs, working long hours, are in bad relationships, have endless commitments, and are suffering serious financial problems, so stress is high 24/365 for countless numbers of people.
While it’s crucial for your physical and mental health to try to curb stress as much as you can, many times that’s easier said than done.
For instance, if it’s job stress you’re under, well, finding another job might not be so easy. And even if you do, if your new job pays a lot less than your old job, you’ll have a new source of stress—financial challenges.
Or if you’re in an unhappy relationship, it might not be as simple as to just walk away—especially if children are involved.
And is a family member is very ill, even though you love and support them and pray for their recovery, the stress remains.
Clearly we can’t always eliminate sources of stress from our lives.
But what we can do is help control the effects that stress has on us.
Let’s take a brief look at why stress can be so harmful, explore if it might be affecting you, and then talk about ways to help your body stay strong and healthy in the face of stress.
Two itty bitty hormones, one GIANT impact on your health
Your body’s ability to handle stress is primarily controlled by your adrenal glands–two little pyramid-shaped pieces of tissue that sit above your kidneys.
When your brain senses stress your adrenals secrete the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare you for a fight or flight reaction. This is a reflection of our biological programming from our ancestors, who had to deal with dangerous animals or enemies and possibly fight for their lives.
This results in your heart beating faster, blood pressure going up, glucose filling your bloodstream for energy, increased blood flow to your muscles, and your pupils dilating, among other things.
If your stress is just occasional and temporary, that’s one thing. Once the stress is over, your body returns back to normal—your blood pressure comes down, your blood sugar level goes back to normal, etc.
But if your stress is chronic and ongoing, your body is getting a consistent flood of adrenaline and cortisol.
The health prices of that can run the gamut and include:
- Low thyroid function (because high levels of adrenal hormones trigger thyroid hormones and eventually your thyroid can become exhausted)
- Elevated blood sugar and type 2 diabetes
- Lowered immune function
- Repeated infections
- Chronic fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Overweight and obesity
- Adrenal burnout
- Worsening of IBS, Crohn’s or colitis attacks
You talkin’ to me?
Here is a quiz you can take to see if chronic stress and adrenal burnout might be taking their toll on you.
Answer yes or no to each question then tally up your yes responses:
Do you have:
1) Low stamina for stress/easy irritability?
2) Moodiness after eating carbs like pasta and bread?
3) Hypoglycemia attacks?
4) Chronic infections?
5) Low blood pressure, fainting or feeling of dizziness when standing up quickly?
6) Chronic allergy or sensitivity to things in the environment?
8) Insomnia, wound up at night or poor sleep?
9) Cravings for sweets?
10) Very poor resistance to respiratory infections (get them easily and they last a long time)?
11) Dry unhealthy skin?
12) Hard time recuperating from jet lag?
13) Anxiety and/or depression?
14) Premature signs of aging like gray hair or wrinkles?
If you answered “yes” to 4 or more of those questions, it may behoove you to have your adrenals tested to see if adrenal hormone supplementation may be necessary.
But note that even if you get treated for low adrenal hormone levels, it’s crucial that you also address the underlying problem—chronic stress—and the other ways it can be taking a toll on your body!
Here are three surefire strategies helping to give your body a strong defense against the physical toll of stress:
Eat stress-fighting foods
Here are some foods that can give your body a helpful boost to counteract the harmful effects of chronic stress:
1- Fatty Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna, can help prevent surges in stress hormones and protect against heart disease, mood disorders like depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
2- Almonds: Almonds are loaded with helpful nutrients. There’s vitamin E to boost the immune system, plus a range of B vitamins, which may make your body more resilient during bouts of stress and help counteract depression.
3- Avocados: High blood pressure is often the result of too little potassium—not necessarily too much sodium. Avocados can help you get the potassium you need—half an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. In addition, guacamole offers a nutritious alternative when stress has you craving a high-fat or high sugar treat.
4- Spinach: Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding these effects of stress. Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, along with other leafy greens like Swiss chard and collard greens, salmon, beans and pumpkin seeds.
5- Black Tea: Research suggests black tea can help you recover from stressful events more quickly. One study compared people who drank 4 cups of tea daily for six weeks with people who drank a tea-like placebo. The real tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of cortisol after stressful situations.
6- Other high protein, stress recovery foods: Like avocados, organic steak, eggs and cheeses can help during stress-induced cravings.
Stay away from refined carbs
Refined carbs like sweets, white breads, pasta and soda result in a surge of glucose into your bloodstream, and when your blood is already loaded with glucose because of stress, adding more to the pile is an invitation for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes to come knocking at your door.
Better carb choices include whole grains and fresh vegetables—these provide a slower, more even and steady supply of glucose.
And if you need ideas on how to enjoy good carbs like these, the Great Taste No Pain system is here to help!
In Great Taste NO Pain, I explain the health dangers of the typical modern diet, show you how to structure delicious meals that your body can digest much easier and help nourish you from head to toe, and even give you a book of scrumptious recipes to try.
Believe me, you’ll see there’s nothing bland or boring about eating for great health once you taste these recipes!
Plus having efficient digestion is crucial for proper absorption of stress-fighting nutrients, and can help counteract the stress-induced symptoms of gastritis and other GI problems.
And eating a wide variety of good-for-you foods helps nourish your body, fight fatigue and encourages all of your organs and glands (including your adrenals) to stay strong and efficient.
Note that if you’re gluten sensitive, I’ve got you covered too with Great Taste No Gluten
Balance your gut flora
Stress can cause your gut to become hypersensitive, which can contribute to the development of food allergies and intolerances.
Plus it also causes the protective mucosal lining in your intestines to become less effective at defending your body against unfriendly bacteria and dangerous pathogens.
That means that you are more susceptible to catching viruses and infections when under chronic stress–your body literally cannot fight them off as well.
Although a healthy diet can help encourage a good gut flora balance, since so many other factors (like environmental toxins, medications, lack of sleep and STRESS) can affect your gut microbes, many times diet is not enough.
That’s why supplementation with a good multi-strain formula can help SO many people.
Fighting the effects of stress on your gut is yet another great reason to take Super Shield probiotic formula every day.
One of Super Shield’s 13 superior bacteria strains, Bifidobacteria lactis, has been shown to have high adhesion to human mucus. That means it will stick to your intestinal wall and keep it strong and protective.
In addition, Super Shield also contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This strain has been shown to stimulate antibody production and enhance phagocytosis, one of your body’s weapons for destroying invaders.
It also helps strengthen the gut-barrier function, and can even have beneficial impact on autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and allergies!
Stress is unavoidable for most people, and many times you can’t control the stressors in the world around you.
But when you help your body fight the inevitable stress that we all face, you are taking giant steps toward keeping your health strong no matter what stresses may come your way.