MANAGE STRESS TO SUPPORT A GOOD FITNESS LEVEL
Stress can cause a physical damage. Negative emotions can trigger a series of biochemical reactions that can weaken the immune system and lead to a plethora of physical symptoms, including weakness, weight gain, headaches, discomfort, fatigue and restlessness. Over time, stress triggers inflammation, affecting our overall health.
Many people are trying to manage stress, but in less than healthy ways.
To make matters worse, the stress hormone cortisol increases appetite and triggers cravings for fat and sugar. Comfort foods have the added effect of providing the brain with a boost of serotonin, also known as the “happy” neurotransmitter. The combination of elevated hormones and stress leads to less than ideal food choices.
There are many things we can do to reduce the effects of stress and help us maintain our health.
Many foods have stress-burst properties. Carbohydrates help the brain to make the mood-elevating chemical serotonin, but complex carbohydrates also keep the supply of serotonin and our energy levels steady. Good complex carbohydrate choices include whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, oatmeal and brown rice.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna can prevent spikes in stress hormones and may protect against feelings of sadness or anxiety. Nuts and seeds are other good sources of healthy fats. Eating a handful of nuts or seeds daily can help diminish the effects of stress and inflammation on the body.
Considering 95% of the “feel-good” chemical serotonin receptors are found in the gut, some studies find that probiotics may be an effective option for managing psychological stress.
Running and exercising are powerful anti-stress activities. The psychological benefits of running and exercising are double:
1. Running and exercising reduces the body’s stress hormones, including cortisol, and increases feel-good chemicals, like serotonin and endorphins, to help boost our mood.
2. Running and exercising doesn’t have to mean to always train intensely. A simple, relaxing 30-minute run or nice walk can help clear our mind and reduce stress.
Sleep is a great stress reducer. Stress can impact the quality and quantity of sleep by altering our sleep cycles. Fatigue can also decrease patience and increase irritability, which can intensify overall stress.
A lack of sleep can cause stress and stress can disrupt our sleep. So how to avoid this vicious cycle? We need to practice sleep hygiene. To spend some time winding down before bed by replacing screen time with reading, listening to music or meditating one hour to 30 minutes before going to sleep.
We should aim to consistently sleep seven to eight hours per night. If we get less than seven hours of sleep per night, we risk missing out on the final REM (deep sleep) cycle, which takes place around the six-hour mark. Losing this REM cycle can lead to not enough muscle recovery, increased hunger, carbohydrate cravings and more stress.
It may be tempting to avoid social situations during stressful times. But reaching out for social support can alleviate the damaging role stress plays on our mental and physical health. Social support can improve our overall positivity, self-esteem and our ability to cope.
PRACTICING MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Practicing mindfulness helps us to control the persistent, unproductive thoughts that tend to stress us out. Research shows that controlling our breath can decrease cortisol levels in the body. Mindful meditation can help ease a variety of psychological stressors.
Learning to manage stress is important to our emotional and physical health, and has the added bonus of being an empowering experience.
One of the most important aspects of health is physical self-care, which benefits not only our body, but our mind as well. To take care of ourself physically, we need to move and fuel our body. Healthy lifestyle habits like engaging in great runs and regular physical exercise, eating a well-balanced, whole-food diet, and supplementing with health-promoting herbs and nutrients will have a lasting impact.
Some research suggest that inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for a range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, colon and breast cancer, obesity, and bone and joint diseases.
Another study, also highlights that diet is a significant risk factor for disability and premature death.
TOP PHYSICAL SELF-CARE RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Get Enough Sleep.
Try your best to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, perhaps with natural sleep aids. Without enough sleep, we feel an increased risk of issues like depression, increased weight gain and inflammation, and decreased attention span.
2. Run or Exercise Daily
Physical activity, in any form, should be a priority. You can go for a run or walk, weight lifting, bike, swim or do yoga. Moving your body is the ideal key.
3. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
We know that diet plays a leading role in our health, so we should focus on eating a well-balanced daily diet that is filled with whole, fresh foods whenever possible.
4. Support Your Gut
Our gut health impacts so many aspects of our overall wellness, from immunity, to nutrient absorption, mental health and digestion. It’s important to support our gut by taking probiotics, eating healing foods like bone broth and fermented veggies, and avoiding inflammatory foods daily.
5. Boost Immune Function
Support the health of your immune system by using immune boosting herbs like echinacea, elderberry, ginseng and astragalus root, foods like bone broth and green tea, and supplements like vitamin D and zinc.
TOP FOODS TO SUPPORT THE IMMUNITY SYSTEM
Simple things can we do to support our health. Lifestyle habits like exercise and eating well have been shown to support immunity. Certain foods can help keep our immune system in tip-top shape.
HOW DOES FOOD AFFECT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Much of the research around supporting immunity with diet has to do with how food changes the bacterial form of the digestive tract. What we put into our body directly impacts how well we can stay healthy. There’s a huge link between gut health and overall health, and certain foods can be especially beneficial for immunity.
Foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol, promote inflammation and negatively impact gut health and the immune system. On the other hand, minimally processed, whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that work against inflammation and support the immune system.
Deficiencies in micronutrients like zinc, selenium and vitamins A, C and E can reduce our immune defence, making it important to eat foods that offer these nutrients.
10 OF THE BEST FOODS TO FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT
1. Citrus Fruits- Like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are high in Vitamin C, which is thought to increase white blood cells production. You might drink orange juice when you're sick for this reason, but eating citrus in its whole form is even better.
2. Bell Peppers- Especially red ones, contain about twice as much Vitamin C as citrus fruits. They’re also rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant that may improve immunity.
3. Broccoli- One of the healthiest vegetables around, full of vitamins A, C and E, fiber and antioxidants that help keep your body healthy. Cooking it can reduce its nutrient content, so eat it raw when possible.
4. Berries- Rich in antioxidants and immune-supporting pigments called anthocyanins, which give them their red, blue and purple colouring.
5. Dark Leafy Greens- Like spinach, kale and collard greens are packed with antioxidants, Vitamin C and beta carotene, which can help fight off infections.
6. Garlic and Ginger- Great for flavouring many dishes and provide immune support. Garlic is known for being rich in sulfur, containing compounds that support immunity, such as allicin, while ginger can reduce inflammation and stomach discomfort.
7. Nuts And Seeds- Like almonds and sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E, an important fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant for immunity. Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, peanuts and pine nuts are also good sources of zinc.
8. Turmeric- An Indian spice known for its characteristic yellow pigmentation. The active component of turmeric is curcumin, which may provide immune support. It’s a known anti-inflammatory and can help repair cell damage in your body.
9. Yogurts- That contain live and active cultures, or probiotics, are particularly good for your gut bacteria and immune defence. Many are also fortified with Vitamin D, which supports immunity. Look for plain varieties without added sugar.
10. Green Tea- Rich in epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, an antioxidant known to support immune function. It’s also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which may help protect your body by promoting the production of immune-supporting compounds.
Eating a wide variety of these top foods for immune support may have you enjoying a healthier year 2023.
Focus on Great Runs, Exercises, Good Nutrition, Good Sleep, Social Events, Feel Healthy, Happy, Lower Stress and Great Wellness 2023!