Welcome to You Are What You Eat! 

Each week, we're going to focus on 3 challenges. Some may seem big and some may seem small but they'll all add up to make you an even better version of yourself. This week, we're focusing on getting moving for 30 minutes every day, resetting our sugar cravings and reducing our stress and boosting our metabolism by exercising our soleus muscles. An in-depth explanation of all of these goals are below. 

Don't forget to set your own goals too! I'm going to give you 3 goals each week but we all have things that we want to work on in life. What are 1 - 2 changes that you've been wanting to make? Create 1 - 2 goals that are specific, realistic and easily measured. A few examples are "I will skip dessert six nights per week.", "I will read one book per month"  or  "I will have coffee with a friend once per week." Notice how each goal is very specific so you'll know when you've hit your goal. Remember, this goal is all yours and can be anything that makes you happy.

Don't forget to write your goals on your tracker.

Let me know if you have any questions. Have a a great day!



You Are What You Eat!

Lesson of the Week:  Your Body on Stress

"Let food be they medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food." - Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC) 

 Hippocrates was on to something when he wrote those words thousands of years ago. Food has been shown to not only fuel our bodies but also affect  how well our minds and bodies run. 

Stress is one area where our food choices can help our bodies. Considering chronic stress is estimated to be responsible for between 75 and 85% of chronic disease, the more we can do to counter the effects of stress, the better off we'll be. 

First, let's look at what happens to our bodies when we're under stress. Then we'll look at how our food choices can help us cope with stress. 

Fight or Flight

Our bodies are designed to keep us safe. So, when we sense a stressor, our body springs into action with our 'fight or flight' system.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine are secreted by our adrenal glands and are responsible for that immediate surge of energy and focus when we sense a stressor. During this response, we feel our heart rates, blood pressure and breathing increase. Our muscles tense up, and we take shallow breaths. This is our reaction to short term or acute stress.  

When the stress continues, cortisol and catecholamines are released to help restore the bodies fluid balance and blood pressure. Cortisol also helps to increase our energy by speeding up the conversion of protein and fats into carbohydrates. At this point you may be saying, "this sounds great...more energy, more focus, using fuel faster, what's not to love?" Not so fast, these stress hormones have their downsides. 

To preserve energy so that we can fight or flee, our digestion, immune systems, reproductive systems and libidos all slow down. Also, our bodies take longer to rid our bloodstream of triglycerides. As if that's not enough, our blood pressure, appetites, water output and abdominal fat all tend to increase. One more thing, stress hormones are water insoluble meaning they also stay in our bloodstream longer. Yikes! 

How does stress affect your nutrition?

To power this stress response, our bodies utilize more energy and more nutrients. Because our body increases its water output, our bodies are drained of water-soluble vitamins B and C. Also, our B vitamins (B6, B12, Folate, etc) are also used to metabolize energy. Remember how our body increases its energy output under stress? This means that we utilize more B vitamins. Dehydration and depletion of minerals, like magnesium, are also another side effect of the stress response.  

With chronic stress, these deficiencies can really take their toll. Fatigue is a common symptom of chronic stress as as well as memory problems, difficulty concentrating, body aches, infertility, insomnia, anxiety, and depression to name a few. We also begin to have a higher baseline stress level, which means that our stress response may fire faster or in response to something that normally wouldn't stress us. The picture above describes more symptoms of both acute and chronic stress.

How can you eat to help your body when under stress?

 Replenish! Work to replace the nutrients that are depleted because of the stress response. The following foods are all fantastic to replenish your nutrients as well as boost your immunity. 

1. Berries!: Loaded with vitamins and also antioxidants to combat the effects of stress on a cellular level. 

2. Avocados: B-vitamin powerhouse

3. Nuts: Great source of vitamins B and E as well as minerals

4. Oranges: A classic! Packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants 

5. Salmon and other Fatty Fish like halibut, anchovies or sardines: Great source of Omega-3s to boost mood, brain and heart health as well as vitamin D for the immune system.

6. Spinach, Kale and other Dark, Leafy Greens: High in Folate and magnesium

7. Green Tea: Research has shown it can increase the metabolic activity of abdominal fat and also boost our immune systems.

8. Asparagus: Packed with B vitamins.

9. Eggs: Rich in B vitamins and choline for brain health

10. Water: Essential to replace what is being lost and keep our bodies running smoothly

11. Dark Chocolate: You read that correctly. Studies have shown that portions of 1 oz or less can boost our serotonin levels and lower our blood pressure. Just be sure it's 70% or higher cocoa and watch those portions

Need a quick, low-stress meal ? Scramble some eggs and toss in some spinach, asparagus or kale to increase its stress busting powers.

Good luck with your homework! Don't forget to check them off on your checklist.

I'll see you on Tuesday with your first quiz of the week!

All material provided here is for informational or educational purposes only. Please consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition. Use or reproduction of text or photographs is prohibited without written permission from WellStyles Consulting®.