We all experience stress at some time or the other in life. Stress is the condition or stimulus that threatens the body’s homeostasis.
Stress may be physical and/or mental and may develop due to a number of reasons. Emotional stress results from feelings of ambition, divine, and desire but is perceived as positive. However strain, tension, and anxiety due to the death of a dear one, financial problems, divorce, unemployment, sickness, and injury, etc. are negative forms of emotional stress.
Physical stress may occur in the form of starvation, illness, surgery, infection, injury, burns or trauma. We must also remember here that following major stress, patients often exhibit a characteristic behaviour. These include immobility, when patients are fearful of moving or interacting; withdrawal, when patients may cease being aware of their environment and become incommunicative, and antagonism, when patients may resist interaction and display hostility to those around them. Altered cerebral blood flow may also be a reason for the altered mental state.
A number of hormonal changes take place in patients following stress. There is a marked rise in the counter-regulatory hormones, viz., glucagon, glucocorticoids, and catecholamine. Glucagon has glycogenolytic and gluconeogenic effects in the liver, Cortical mobilizes amino acids from skeletal muscle, increases hepatic gluconeogenesis and maintain body fat stores. The catecholamine also stimulates hepatic gluconeogenesis and glycolysis and increases the lactate production from skeletal muscles. They also increase metabolic rate and lipolysis. Growth hormone is also elevated when thyroid levels are reduced.
Stress causes physiological, metabolic, and hormonal changes in your body! As a result of metabolic responses to different stress like injury, trauma, sepsis, etc., there is an increase in energy expenditure. Body fat level is also decreased and loss of weight is common. Their protein requirements are also high during any stressed condition. Therefore one balanced energy-dense diet, providing all sorts of micronutrient as well is recommended by any dietician. But sometimes eating some wrong food may aggravate your stress condition more!
Here are some things to remember when you are dealing with any kind of stress:
1. Avoid intake of caffeine-containing drinks - These will increase gut stimulation and thereby make you sicker by increasing restlessness and aggravate your stress more.
2. Cortisol secretion is increased by taking trans fat in the diet - Cortisol is an important steroid hormone that increases energy production in the body. Cortisol is constantly being pumped out in this over-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle of today which is harmful for our health. Avoid taking in foods (especially processed food prepared using vegetable oils) with high trans fat when you are stressed as it elevates Cortisol secretion.
3. Avoid intake of trans fat during any stress - Avoid taking fruit juices during this stage! As it is having a risk of diabetes and poor metabolic health, and this is the condition when an altered cortisol curve is observed along with elevated inflammation.
4. Eating fruits is having altered result and it is most advisable to take whole fruit - Banana is very good and it helps in reducing emotional stress.
If you already have a sensitivity to some food, then avoid it especially during your stressed condition. Stop taking alcohol of course! Low fiber diet, junk food, confectioneries, cakes, carbohydrate-dense foods have a direct relation with increased cortisol level. This is not good under stressed conditions.
Take home message: Stress is an integral part of an individual's life but we can control by healthy food practices. Good foods can provide good nutrition which altogether can reduce the risk of stress.