The first function I would like to talk about is the hormone called Cortisol. It is produced from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands located on top of each kidney. It is normally released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress. Cortisol’s far-reaching, systemic effects play many roles in the body’s effort to carry out its processes and maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties such as temperature or pH.
Of interest to the dietetics community, cortisol also plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of substrate (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it. When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
Cortisol (along with its partner epinephrine) is best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival. The resulting biochemical and hormonal imbalances (ideally) resolve due to a hormonally driven negative feedback loop. The following is a typical example of how the stress response operates as its intended survival mechanism:
1. An individual is faced with a stressor.
2. A complex hormonal cascade ensues, and the adrenals secrete cortisol.
3. Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response by flooding it with glucose, supplying an immediate energy source to large muscles.
4. Cortisol inhibits insulin production in an attempt to prevent glucose from being stored, favoring its immediate use.
5. Cortisol narrows the arteries while the epinephrine increases heart rate, both of which force blood to pump harder and faster.
6. The individual addresses and resolves the situation.
7. Hormone levels return to normal.
So what’s the problem? In short, the theory is that with our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle, our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health. This whole-body process, mediated by hormones and the immune system, identifies cortisol as one of the many players. But isolating its role helps put into context the many complex mechanisms that lead to specific physiological damage.
Cortisol functions to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time, these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppress the immune system. Chronic inflammation, caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, helps to keep cortisol levels soaring, wreaking havoc on the immune system. An unchecked immune system responding to unabated inflammation can lead to problems: an increased susceptibility to colds and other illnesses, an increased risk of cancer, the tendency to develop food allergies, an increased risk of an assortment of gastrointestinal issues (because a healthy intestine is dependent on a healthy immune system).
How can we control this, well eating a healthier diet, certain foods such as?
FOODS FOR STRESS
1.Almonds ~these crunchy little dudes are great stress relievers: they're packed with vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress. Zinc has also been shown to fight some of the negative effects of stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease.
2. Fish ~ most types of fish are replete with all-important B vitamins, particularly the renowned stress fighters B6 and B12. In fact, B12 is one of the most important vitamins involved in the synthesis of the "happy" brain chemical serotonin; a vitamin B12 deficiency can even lead to depression.
3. Broccoli ~ yet another food that is chock-full of stress-relieving B vitamins, broccoli has the added benefit of containing folic acid, which is also part of the B vitamin family. Folic acid helps relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and even depression.
4. Whole-grain rice or pasta ~it's a good thing carbohydrates are finally back in style now that everyone has realized those low-carb diets were a bunch of hooey; carbs boost serotonin levels and thus have a calming, soothing effect. While all carbs will give you this kick, stick to whole-grain bread, rice and pasta.
5. Cantaloupe and cottage cheese ~ cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is crucial in combating stress. In fact, prolonged periods of stress deplete levels of vitamin C in the adrenal glands, so it's important to consume foods that contain high levels of it.
6. Blueberries ~ these little blue miracle workers are jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are potent stress busters. As an added bonus, they're low in calories, so they won't make you blimp-like.
Blueberries are also a good source of fiber, which can help relieve the cramps and constipation that can occur in times of stress.
Yes your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being and specifically your level of stress. In addition to incorporating these stress-fighting foods into your diet, try to eliminate substances that may be contributing to your anxiety. These include: coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages; switch to black tea, which has one-third the caffeine content of coffee. Stay away from fried and fatty foods and animal foods; although some can help relieve stress, don't go overboard, as high amounts of protein increase levels of stress-causing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
While eating healthier foods plays an important role in your well-being, so does exercising. When exercising there are numerous benefits! Not only does it release a chemical called serotonin, which makes you feel happier, and less stressed, it also improves circulation and prevents conditions, such as stroke and heart attack. Exercise also allows you to take out your frustration and anger in a constructive way.
To tie everything together we must know what and how stress is related to our topic of conversation. Now what is exactly stress! Stress is the way that you feel when pressure is placed on you. A little bit of pressure can be quite productive, give you motivation, and help you to perform better at something.
However, too much pressure, or prolonged pressure, can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for both the mind and body. Everyone reacts differently to stress, and some people may have a higher threshold than others. Too much stress often leads to physical, mental, and emotional problems.
When faced with a situation that makes you stressed your body releases chemicals, including cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These invoke the 'fight or flight' feelings that help us to deal with the situation. However, when you are in a situation that prevents you from fighting, or escaping, such as being on an overcrowded train, these chemicals are not used.
If the chemicals that are released during stressful situations build up from not being used, their effects are felt by the body.
I am ending with a note that some talk has been made that I am preaching and that I have consumed myself into talking all the time about foods and chemicals. Well I would like to say that if this helps one person to change, prevent or even manage their cancer I would be overjoyed. I have been through a lot of fear through my journey with cancer, but this has helped me gain knowledge. With the knowledge that I have been sharing its what helped me manage my cancer. We need to research more before taking action with surgery, chemo and radiation.
Linking the natural hormones that release in your body to natural vitamins and minerals in our foods can prevent stress hormones to damage your cells and therefore help to prevent disease.
Thanks to all that read and follow my blog and all the prayers during my healing process.