What is Stress?
Lo stressit is often the consequence of lifestyle. We live in a society of performance and while we express maximum efficiency at work, we have to manage domestic duties, the thousand tasks that concern children, drive through a city full of traffic … Any stressful situation can make us irritable and in a bad mood. If the stress continues over time, the impact on our health becomes important. Sleep disturbances, hormonal alterations, increased heart rate and blood pressure values, skin problems and a poor reactivity of the immune system can then appear. Scientists make a difference between the “Good stress” or eustress which is able to enhance our health and it “Bad stress” or distress.
In conditions of chronic stressneurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine are produced in large quantities and trigger a specific response known as fight or flight (ie “attack or flee”). It is under the effect of these hormones that heart rate and blood pressure rise while the efficiency of our immune system is reduced. Therefore, the risk of experiencing problems such as acute myocardial infarction, gastric ulcer, bacterial or viral infections increases. Also, due to the constant state of voltage, some muscle groups (especially the shoulder and neck muscles) tend to be hyper-contracted. This is how some get started muscle problems and the so-called musculotensive headaches.
Stress and nutrition
In conditions of forte stress some people are inclined to eat uncontrollably, being attracted above all to cosiddetto comfort food. It is a type of food proposed by the food industry and characterized by a high content of simple sugars and saturated fats. These foods generate a great satisfaction that does not last long and for this reason one is led to repeat the experience. Eating pastries, filled biscuits and chocolates can become a difficult habit to change in the space of a few days. Eating the wrong food can also make your stress response worse.
- Citrus fruits: rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, they help fight stress, counteract arterial hypertension and reduce blood levels of cortisolstress hormone:
- il the verde: hot drinks help you relax and especially in winter ensure that you can take in the right amount of liquids. Green tea is particularly rich in antioxidant substances, the epigallocatechins-gallate, which have proved capable of counteracting the action of cortisol;
- milk and its derivatives help in counteracting stress thanks to their calcium intake;
- oily fish, thanks to its omega-3 intake, fights systemic inflammation which is considered by many to be one of the triggering causes of stress states;
- the oily fruit provides a fair amount of zinc and iron, which are essential for the balance of our nervous system. A handful of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios (equivalent to about 20 grams) raises the tone of thehumor and allows us to better manage situations that generate stress. There is no problem with the scale. It has been shown that among those who regularly eat oily fruit, the prevalence of overweight is quite low.
Foods high in simple sugars (industrial biscuits, fruit juices, carbonated drinks …) that help raise blood levels of cortisol:
- artificial sweeteners, which in the long run can cause problems for our health. Our taste buds get used to this type of solicitation making us crave sweets even more;
- refined carbohydrates: together with simple sugar, refined carbohydrates (see type 00 flours) are considered empty calorie sources. Their nutritional value (in terms of mineral salts, vitamins and antioxidants) is in fact rather scarce;
- the alcoholincreases blood pressure, alters heart rhythm and disturbs the quality of sleep;
- excessive consumption of coffee, whose action is to excite the nervous system.
Serotonin and food
The serotonin it is a neurotransmitter able to promote good mood and promote night rest. Good mood and sleep are the two special ingredients to cope with any type of stress. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid for the synthesis of serotonin. Below is a list of foods that guarantee a greater intake of tryptophan:
- Whole grains.