Stress is a fact of life in the hectic world we live in today. It is cumulative and emotional physical and metabolic stress affects the body in the same way. Fortunately there are control mechanisms in the body known as the stress response that are geared towards counteracting everyday stresses of life.

This is the "fight or flight" reaction – in other words the body is preparing us to run away or fight for survival.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline alert the body to prepare for stress by raising heart rate, increasing blood pressure, converting stored sugar (glycogen) into glucose for energy and retaining fluid.

So initially this stress response gives us energy, but living with constant stress can take its toll on our bodies. By ‘living on adrenaline’, magnesium, vitamin B5 and vitamin C are burnt up as the adrenal glands require these nutrients. Fats, carbohydrates and protein are also metabolised faster when the body is under stress which leads to the loss of minerals such as phosphorous and potassium.

Long term chronic stress can have serious effects: raising blood pressure, suppressing the immune system, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke and speeding up the aging process.

What we eat can affect how our bodies deal with stress:

  • High sugar and refined carbohydrate foods can actually intensify the ups and downs of the body's stress response making us feel worse than we need to;
  • On the other hand complex carbs, like a bowl of rolled oat porridge with banana can boost levels of the soothing brain chemical, serotonin;
  • Other foods like black tea and oily fish can help reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time.

High protein foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds helps to slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream therefore helping to maintain better mood and energy.