STRESS & NUTRITION: Crucial Info For Every Health Practitioner

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Note from the Coach:
The following quote says it all:


         “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself,

    art cannot become manifest,  strength cannot be exerted,

wealth is useless,  and reason is powerless.”  ~ Herophilus (300 B.C.)


Which is why the following article is one of the most important ever posted on this website.  Take heed, if you truly wish to heal your hernia holistically.  The wisdom and guidance contained in this essay are both indisputable and invaluable.

The Hernia Coach

*    *    *

Nutrition Effects on Stress

by Dr. Vicki Griffin, Dr. Edwin Neblett and Evelyn Kissinger

“The heaviest rains fall on the leaky house.”
Japanese saying

Lifestyle choices affect both mind ‘and body. As early as 300 B.C. the Greek surgeon and anatomist Herophilus wrote:”When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless, and reason is powerless.” Isn’t it odd that many people ruin their health the first half of their life trying to make more money, and then spend the second half of their life spending money trying to get their health back!

For many people, mealtime is fast, frenzied, and often “thawed-out” instead of “thought-out.”

For many Americans today, the basic four food groups are “nuked,” canned, boxed, and “fast.” In short, it is unbalanced, unhealthful, unsatisfying, and unnatural! Can good mental or physical health be the result of such poor, haphazard choices?

“Increased daily ingestion of caffeine is associated with higher levels of anxiety symptoms
in both healthy and psychiatric patients.”

Arc Gen Psychiatry 1985; 42:233-243

“Rushing” Roulette?
Are you chewing down on fat- and sugar-laden foods such as pizzas and fries, pastries and pies, chips, chops, and lollipops, and turning away from hundreds of power-packed, tasty, easy-to-fix fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes? America is gulping down this fiberless fare with a national daily ration of 33 million gallons of coffee per day. That is the equivalent of 30 seconds full flow of water over Niagara Falls! But all that coffee isn’t quenching our thirst. Americans drink an average of 547 cans of soda pop per person per year (643 in the South), at a total cost of 47.3 billion dollars! And it’s not just the cans that are getting bigger—so are our problems! Is it possible that our “revved-up” diet is contributing to a “stressed-out” America?

By conservative estimates, up to 30 percent of adult Americans have a daily caffeine intake of more than 500 mg.38 Caffeine is a drug that temporarily increases the sensation of alertness, but research has shown that over time caffeine may increase stress-sensitivity, anxiety, and depression. It can also encourage the loss of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.39,40 But the most subtle and devastating long-term effect of caffeine may be its slow erosion of vital nerve centers in the brain that balance stress hormone levels. This can eventually affect memory and risk of depression. How? Caffeine causes an elevation of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can accumulate in a brain memory center called the hippocampus.41 The hippocampus is essential for short-term memory and is also a key player in regulation of your body’s stress system.

When cortisol levels remain too high for too long from exposure to chronic stress or chemical stimulation such as caffeine, cell death can occur in the hippocampus, as well as other vital areas of the brain.42 The result can include memory impairment, chronic depression, and chronic “dysregulation” of the stress system.

Coffee, tea, and soft drink consumption tend to cause vitamin and mineral loss and dehydration. According to the American Dietetic Association, dehydration of as little as two percent loss of body weight can reduce your mental and physical abilities. Plentiful water intake (about eight glasses a day for a typical adult) reduces sluggishness by enhancing circulation and enabling your blood to carry life and energy-giving nutrients to the body’s cells!

Sweet Stressors

Carbohydrates are needed to increase the brains uptake of Tryptophan. Tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate mood, appetite, pain tolerance, food cravings, and sleep. It has been suggested that many “sugar-holies” are actually self-medicating due to the mood-elevating effects of increased serotonin. If so, there’s a lot of medicating going on, from babyhood up! Some experts estimate that the average adult intake of refined sweeteners (sucrose and fructose) is about 120 Ibs. per person per year. In analyzing the diets of 15,000 Americans aged two and older, it was found that table sugar and sweeteners in processed foods account for nearly one-fifth, or 20 percent, of American’s carbohydrate intake.43

In two- to five-year-olds, sugars, candy, and sweetened fruit drinks weremajor sources of carbohydrates, followed by soft drinks. In the six to 11 age group, soft drinks, sweetened cereals, cakes, cookies, and sweetened fruit drinks were the favorites. In teens, almost four-tenths, or 40 percent, of sugar calories came from soft drinks!44 Among 15-year-olds, the United States ranked among the top three countries
where kids eat sweets, chocolate, and soft drinks every day!45

The problem is, there is a down-side to the quick lift associated with low-fiber, refined sweets. While it is true that simple carbohydrates elevate serotonin levels, they elevate them only for a short time.46 Repeated ingestion of quick “pick-me-up” snacks that are low in real nutrition not only play havoc with hormones but also with blood sugar, insulin, and blood nutrient levels. They are a real “downer” when it comes to stress protection.

“In two- to five-year olds, sugars, candy, and sweetened fruit drinks
were major sources of carbohydrates, followed by soft drinks.”

Your body needs carbohydrates for energy. But the best form of energy is the slow-releasing carbs found in whole grains such as whole wheat bread, oats, whole grain pasta, beans, unrefined potatoes, unrefined cereals, and brown rice. These provide sustained energy and hundreds of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals vital to physical and mental health. In fact, complex carbohydrates or starch foods with natural fiber and nutrient constituents result in longer, more sustained levels of brain serotonin.4 It is no surprise, then, that those who consume breakfast cereal regularly report better mental and physical health than those who consume it infrequently.48

Filled Out or Filled Up?
Equal Calories

High-Fat, Low-Fiber

Low-Fat, High-Fiber

• 1 8-oz. chocolate bar • 25 carrots
• 1 5-oz. chocolate bar • 3 pounds of apples
• 1 cheeseburger • 21 cups of popcorn
• 1 danish • apple, banana, orange and 1/2 cantelope
• 1 slice of chocolate cake • 7 slices of whole wheat bread
• 1 milkshake • 5 bananas
• 1 peanut butter parfait • 7 bananas
• 5-oz. steak • 5 baked potatoes
• 12 marshmallows • 60 stalks of celery
• 1/2 cup peanuts • 600 cucumber slices
• 6 small chocolate chip cookies • 20 green peppers, 3 ears of corn

Fills You OUT:

Fills You UP!

Is There a Tiger in Your Tank?

As the proportion of meals eaten away from home has nearly doubled in the last twenty years,49 meat and animal protein foods are taking a lion’s share of daily energy intake. Is the lion’s alternately groggy then irritable disposition the price tag for such “copycat” eating?

Very high protein diets are popular today, but while the benefits are doubtful at best, they may increase stress sensitivity. According to one study, individuals with high-stress prone-ness had more energy and lower stress proneness after a meal high in carbohydrates and low in protein than after a meal high in protein and low in carbohydrates.50 High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are associated with worse performance on mental flexibility tasks and higher levels of irritability, anxiety, and depression.51,52

One reason may be that very high protein diets tend to be high in the amino acidtyrosine. Tyrosine is necessary for the important brain hormones dopamine and norepinephrine, which help elevate mood and energy. But if tyrosine levels are very high at every meal, then serotonin levels drop, and low serotonin is associated with depression, eating disorders, and insomnia, among other problems. We need protein in the diet, but excessive amounts just may set your nerves on edge. The key word here is balance.

It is a popular notion that if you want to be alert, load up on protein, and if you want to be calm, eat plenty of “carbs.” While it is true that these foods can have a short-term effect on mental alertness and perhaps even mood, meals that are consistently balanced in their protein, carbohydrates, and fat are the best overall plan for long-term stress protection and consistent mental strength.

The long-term effects associated with diets high in meat and dairy products are lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes. It is interesting that these diseases are also associated with cognitive impairment and an increased risk for dementia.33 There are serious health consequences to dietary habits that “stress” the metabolism over long periods of time.

The typical American diet, loaded with meats, cheeses, eggs, and other animal protein, is no stress-reliever and can quickly rack up a daily protein load of 120 grams or more! Less than half that much is all that is needed for most adults (45 grams for women, and 55 grams for men). A day’s menu that includes just one chicken breast, an eight-ounce burger, two ounces of cheese, and one cup of yogurt adds up to 120 grams of protein! These inordinately high protein diets tend to deprive the brain of carbohydrates and antioxidants, which are needed for proper function and maintenance.

“Nuts, beans, legumes, soy, seeds, and whole grains are excellent sources of plant-based protein
and are also rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phyto chemicals.”

This heavy protein load also tends to overwork the kidneys, leach calcium from the bones, and create metabolic stress that promotes inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular disease. Nuts, beans, legumes, soy, seeds, and whole grains are excellent sources of plant-based protein, which are metabolically more “user friendly” and are also rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals.

A plant-based vegetarian diet, containing adequate calories and a good variety of protein foods such as grains, beans, nuts, tofu, and legumes in the menu for the week, will provide all the protein necessary for a healthful, balanced diet, without tipping the protein scale on the wrong side. Add to this delicious variety your choice of hearty, fiber-filled complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, yams, squash, and plenty of fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables. Include a little olive oil, some avocado, olives, or nuts for healthful fats, and you have a balanced and beautiful mix of foods that will calm your nerves while strengthening your mental faculties!