The links between stress and nutrition can’t be underestimated, however, Dr Marilyn Glenville is here to explain how managing one can manage the other.
What are the three most surprising things people need to know about how stress affects their health?
- That stress can cause people to put weight on around the middle of their body. Fat around the middle is the most dangerous place to gain weight as it is metabolically active fat and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer (especially breast cancer).
- Stress can reduce your sex drive. It affects the sex hormones and can decrease your libido.
- Your moods can be very up and down and you can become very angry or short tempered, find yourself shouting at the children, partner, work colleagues etc, as well as feeling very emotional and weepy, this is all due to stress.
Is there one way to deal with stress or is it a matter of tackling each thing individually?
I talk about using 7 steps to dealing with stress, they are very practical and yet can have quick results. These include looking at your lifestyle, sleep and exercise as well as nutrition, see below.
Can nutrition really make a noticeable difference?
Nutrition can make a huge difference in a number of ways. When we are under stress we have a greater need for certain nutrients such as vitamin C and magnesium (called nature’s ‘tranquilliser’) so we need to make sure we are getting enough either in our food or in supplements .
The biggest aspect of nutrition is that the way you eat can send your body the wrong message. Balancing blood sugar is essential in lowering stress, because the crashes in sugar levels which happen through the day stimulates more adrenaline and cortisol to be released. This is because these stress hormones, apart from helping you to run away from a tiger ,can also mobilise your glucose back into the blood stream. This is why you can feel more jittery when blood sugar plummets.
Certain nutrients can be extremely helpful in helping to reduce stress. These include the B vitamins especially B5 for stress relief and energy. Magnesium, nature’s tranquiliser for relaxation and sleep. Chromium for blood sugar balance. Siberian ginseng, which acts as a tonic to the adrenal glands and L-theanine for reducing stress and anxiety. A good supplement I use in the clinic which contains all these nutrients plus more is NHP’s Tranquil Woman Support.
What do you mean by good stress and how can you tell the difference?
Good stress is when we feel excited and stimulated about something. Good examples are going on a roller coaster or watching a horror film. We want to be frightened and have that excitement but it’s a positive experience rather than negative. When stress becomes too much is when it becomes dis ‘stress’.
Is there a simple hack people can use to deal with a stressful situation while in the moment?
The simplest hack is to breathe deeply. When you’re stressed you’re more likely to shallow-breathe, which can actually increase feelings of stress. It’s almost like hyperventilating. By learning to breathe with your diaphragm, you will not only be signalling that you are less stressed, but you will also be circulating more oxygen around your body and mind. This will give you more energy, allow the feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain to do their job efficiently, and also activate the relaxation centres in the brain.
Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally best selling books including her new book Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s available from Amazon. The Glenville Nutrition Clinics are in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Kilkenny for more information or to book a consultation go to glenvillenutrition.ie
Starting on 4 March, Dr Marilyn Glenville will be touring around Ireland with her seminar: Overcoming Stress – 7 practical ways to reduce the stress in your life. Dates include, Cork on 4 March; Dublin on 5 March; Cavan on 6 March; Galway on 7 March; Tralee on 8 March; Kilkenny on 9 March and Wexford on 10 March. Tickets are priced at €20 and are available here