Stress has been implicated in a number of health problems, ranging from minor and annoying to serious and life threatening. The “big” diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, are all thought to have some sort of stress component. Stressors in the environment instigate the “fight or flight” response in the body. The adrenals release adrenaline and cortisol, and you can often feel the immediate effects – stomach discomfort, heart palpitations, sweating, etc.
Biologically, these functions serve a purpose. Before civilization and cities and cars, humans on the plains would need these sorts of mechanisms to keep them sharp against predators and to help them hunt prey. Unfortunately for us, our bodies aren’t particularly well equipped to handle the low level, non-life threatening types of stress we go through on a daily basis. This constant, low-level stress leads to a constant, low-level stream of cortisol and adrenaline. The long-term effects of this aren’t pretty – lowered immunity, inflammation (which is associated with cancer, heart disease and a number of other autoimmune diseases) and adrenal fatigue.
Other factors, such as food, can even cause stress in the body. Take sugar for instance – sugar has an intimate relationship with stress. Sugar can act as a stressor on the body. However, if you are stressed, you will often crave sugar. This is because sugar releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain. The result is a negative feedback cycle, replete with the concomitant blood sugar spikes and crashes. Or, take mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are very detrimental to human health and put an enormous strain on the body. Not coincidentally, sugary foods and comfort foods – the kind we often crave when stressed – are the same foods often contaminated with mycotoxins and the kind of foods that would feed a fungal infection.
Enter fungus – especially if you are eating foods laden with mycotoxins, your body is going to be under a lot of stress. Stressed out bodies work in favor of fungus, which is an opportunistic organism. With your immunity lowered, it can colonize certain tissues in your body. Again, un-coincidentally, fungus has an intimate link with many of the diseases stress is implicated in.
Since we are unable to avoid stress, the best course of action is to manage and mitigate the way we respond to it. Here are a few ways to do this:
You might be surprised (or not, depending on how often you frequent the site or watch the show!) to find out that the best diet to combat stress is a diet that also limits mycotoxin exposure and fights fungus. Getting lots of good fats in your diet, i.e., avocado, salmon, walnuts, etc., is a great tool to help mitigate stress. Keep sugars, grains, corn, alcohol and potatoes out of your diet. In essence, follow the Phase 1 diet.
Exercise has been shown to help with depression as well as some prescription drugs. Exercise releases those vital endorphins, and is an excellent stress reducer.
Fish oil is a great supplement to help against stress. Magnesium is a good supplement to use to relax, and there are a few sleep aids that use this as a primary ingredient. L-Theanine, phosphatidyl serine and magnolia bark are all excellent as well.