One of the questions on my client’s intake forms is, “On a scale of 1-10, how stressed are you?” Rarely does anyone put down anything lower than a 7. Most people put 8 or higher. Stress is something we all deal with, but it’s not really the stress that is the problem (because that will always be there), it’s the ability of our body and mind to process and manage our stress.
If our bodies are functioning optimally, our stress-threshold is increased. When our stress-threshold is increased, we can handle more stress without it affecting us so negatively. If you are not eating foods that enhance your physiology and balance your cortisol levels, then you are decreasing your stress-threshold.
The stress-threshold is the maximum amount of stress that your body and mind can handle before you are in a code red/burnt-out state. This may present itself in the form of back pain, or any other bodily symptom, and even eventually lead to a disease process.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It keeps blood sugar high, as if the body is on high alert, ready to respond to a present danger. But if cortisol is always high, it keeps the cells starved for energy.
If you want to increase your stress-threshold, what you feed yourself is extremely important.
Simple dietary changes can have a dramatic impact on your mood and overall feelings of wellness. Here you can find a list of foods that should be added to your diet.
- WATER: Drink at least half your body weight in ounces per day. Do not drink tap water unless it is filtered-it is filled with chlorine, which has negative effects on the thyroid, other organs, and cells. Get a good quality water filter!
- BERRIES: Contain anthocyanins, which promote cellular health.
- KIWIS: Contain vitamin C, which helps to reduce cortisol levels.
- AVOCADO / COCONUT: These good fats provide cellular energy and fuel.
- WILD SALMON: Omega 3s help fight inflammation and support neurotransmitters in the brain. If you see organic salmon, this is another alternative, but is rare because there are only three organic farms in the world. They are farm-raised but fed organic food and have a tidal flow, so this fish is healthier than typical farm-raised salmon.
- TURKEY: Contains tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin has a positive effect on your mood.
- PUMPKIN SEEDS & ALMONDS: Contain zinc, which is important for the nervous system and immune system.
- DARK LEAFY GREENS: Contain B-vitamins and minerals, which are essential for supporting the adrenal glands.
- SESAME SEEDS: Rich in phytosterols and minerals (such as copper and manganese), which help to nourish the nervous system.
- PROTEIN: Many people are protein deficient. I suggest a quality supplemental protein made out of split peas or brown rice. Many people have a dairy intolerance, which makes whey protein a problem for them. Protein supports norepinephrine and dopamine production, which are essential neurotransmitters for stress and brain function.
Listed below are foods that increase stress on the mind and body. These foods should be limited in your diet.
- Foods that dehydrate: Alcohol and caffeine.
- Foods that increase cortisol levels: Sugary foods and processed foods.
- Foods that remove minerals from the body: Soda.
- Foods that spike blood sugar: White rice and white potatoes (does not include sweet potatoes).
- Foods that have limited nutritional value: Enriched wheat flour and other refined grains.
- Processed oils: Soybean oil and canola oil.
Source: NYC chiropractor Dr. L. Granirer