Food and Stress

msmith
No one in the world is immune from stress. It is simply a ubiquitous environmental element of the world that we live in. No amount of insulation can keep you from going through it. Some people handle it better than others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t experience it. From driving on a crowded freeway to experiencing the death of a loved one, stress is an inevitable part of being human.

 

Is there a relationship between the foods we eat and the way we experience stress? Much of the research that is coming out on the way stress affects people is pointing us in that direction. Subsequently, is there a link between fungi, mycotoxins and stress? While fungus doesn’t necessarily cause “stress” in the daily psychological way that we experience it (Although, if you think about it and its effects long enough, it could serve to stress you out!), fungi and mycotoxins are intimately linked to some of the methods people use to cope with stress, and the subsequent health effects such methods have.

The methods one may use to cope with stress are as varied as the people that stress afflicts. Some choose to exercise – a good choice for its proven ability to relieve stress. Some choose to chase after “feel-good” chemicals by gorging on comfort foods. These usually come in the of form carb-laden, sugar-laden and grain-laden fare. These kinds of foods release endorphins, which can temporarily ease the feelings of stress and anxiety – part of the reason why people crave them when they are stressed. However, the long term effects of coping with stress this way may only serve to make the problem of stress much worse.

There is a biochemical correlation between sugar intake and the way your body reacts to stress. A study conducted with rats out of the University of Southern Florida found a strong link between a high sugar diet and stress; rats fed a high sugar diet were found to be more profoundly influenced by bad memories than rats fed a high fat diet. The rats fed the high fat diets exhibited a much better psychological state (in addition to gaining less weight) than the rats fed a high sugar diet.

Not coincidentally, there is also an intimate link between sugary foods and fungus. Foods made with grain or corn are commonly contaminated with mycotoxins, and foods high in sugar or carbohydrates – as comfort foods often are – are going to be the perfect foods needed for a deeply rooted fungal infection to flourish. These foods are taxing, or “stressful” to the body in the physical sense, both because of the sugar content and the mycotoxin content. Eating this way can become addictive, especially if a fungal infection takes over. Fungal infections can dictate cravings; remember, fungi needs sugar to survive. The result can be a negative feedback cycle in which the foods you crave to cope with stress and anxiety only damage your body, rendering you less able to cope with stress and anxiety.

Stress can also affect insulin levels in the blood, causing them to fall. At the same time, levels of cortisol and and adrenaline rise – this serves to make tissues less sensitive to insulin. This can cause a build up of glucose in the blood stream. Insulin resistance is a critical component of diabetes. People familiar with Doug’s work will recall fungi’s role in diabetes, as published in The Fungus Link to Diabetes. Again, the relationship between sugar, stress and fungi is very interconnected.

Another food often used to cope with stress is alcohol. A clearer link between food and mood could not be found. (Incidentally, a clearer link between foods contaminated with mycotoxins and mood couldn’t be found, either. Alcohol is the product of fermenting yeast, which is a kind of fungus. It is, by definition, a mycotoxin.) Alcohol is a short term depressant, but a long term irritant, and the links between alcohol and depression are well documented. After drinking a glass of wine or a few beers, imbibers feel relaxed and elated. Cut to the next morning, and many are reaching for the ibuprofen, often feeling depressed, anxious and crummy.

 

Knowing that the foods we eat can play a role in the way we experience stress, it is important to pay close attention to diet in trying times. Knowing, too, that fungi and mycotoxins can play a devastating role in our health, and that those same mycotoxins have an intimate relationship with many of the foods we crave when dealing with stress, it should come as no surprise that a diet helpful against stress is also an anti-fungal diet that limits mycotoxins. Eating lots of organic, grass-fed, wild caught or pastured meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables and limited fruits is a good place to start. If this sounds familiar, you are probably familiar with the Phase 1 diet, because that is basically what is listed above!

Stress is inevitable, but having your health suffer as a result is not.

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