There are only two categories of foods: whole foods and processed foods.
A healthy balanced diet should be primarily whole foods with restricted consumption of processed foods. There are numerous ways to differentiate between these two.
Processed food that's organic is still processed food !
If a food comes out of a box and is labeled organic, it means it's healthier only in that it was minimally produced without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. And you can feel good that workers, animals, and the environment were all treated better in the process.
However, it might not be nutritionally better for you!
Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake.
Disappointingly, they don’t offer much in nutritional value. Most likely, it's processed food if it's wrapped in several layers of plastic, cardboard, and/or foil, and it didn't exist until after 1903 when the hydrogenation process was invented. In addition to being excessively advertised, this food category is well funded by government subsidies. These foodstuffs are located on the shelves of the inside middle aisles in grocery stores. Examples of processed foods include sugary drinks including juices, cereals, and crackers, rice cakes, cakes, biscuits.
On the other hand, whole foods are grown in orchards, gardens, or greenhouses, are unprocessed and unrefined, and have a shorter shelf life. These foods are authentically flavorful, have vibrant colors, and rich textures. Moreover, they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Typically, they require longer preparation times. In contrast, they receive very little media advertising, and are not well funded with government subsidies. When you are in grocery stores, these foods are mainly found on the store’s wall aisles to the sides and back of the store. Additionally, this food category can be found at farmers markets, and at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The easiest way to swop your snacks to whole foods is to just add in fresh, raw fruit and vegetables as snacks such as apples, pears, carrot, cucumbers and pepper sticks with a tablespoon of humus or tahini, nuts and seeds with dried fruits, or even making your own health bars, energy balls, truffles, using wholesome ingredients conventional or organic.
Another all time favourite healthy snack made from fresh, raw, ingredients are smoothies. You can make them with fruits or veggies, add in some goat’s / sheep’s yogurt, tahini, alternative milks, goat’s milk, superfoods / powerfoods (spirulina, moringa, bee pollen, maca, carob powder, aloe vera, chia, hemp, acai etc..) and leafy greens like kale, spinach, parsley, coriander.
What is Greenwashing ? 22 Brands that you Think are Green but aren’t.
Have any of you heard of Greenwashing before ? This is what I found out the other day while I was researching another topic. I knew that some companies do what they do to see, but had no idea that there was a term for it. Here’s the definition that I found:
Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on "whitewash"), or "green sheen", is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. Evidence that an organization is greenwashing often comes from pointing out the spending differences: when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being "green" (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices. Greenwashing efforts can range from changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment on a product that contains harmful chemicals to multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns portraying highly polluting energy companies as eco-friendly. In an academic paper Greenwashing has been defined as "co-creation of an external accusation toward an organization with regard to presenting a misleading green message", indicating that an accusation is necessary to speak of Greenwashing.
22 brands that are not so “Green” as you may like them to be.
(In alphabetical order)
Your liver is a workhouse that can even regenerate its own damaged cells. However, it is not invincible. When it lacks essential nutrients or when it is overwhelmed by toxins, it no longer performs as it should. Hormone imbalances may develop.
Fat may accumulate in the liver and then just under the skin or in other organs. Toxins build up and get into your bloodstream.
Among the signs of “toxic liver’ are:
When your liver is sluggish, every organ in your body is affected, and your weight loss efforts are blocked. Blood vessels enlarge, and blood flow becomes restricted. A toxic liver is unable to break down the adrenal hormone aldosterone, which accumulates to retain sodium (and water) and suppresses potassium.
This can raise your blood pressure. The liver fails to detoxify the components of estrogen (estrone and estradiol) for excretion, so symptoms of estrogen dominance arise. Unable to carry out its activities to control glucose, a toxic liver can lead to hypoglycemia, which can produce sugar cravings, weight gain, and candid overgrowth.
A toxic liver is unable to process toxins, enabling them to escape into your blood stream and set an immune response. With repeated assaults from escaped toxins, your immune system becomes overworked. Fluid accumulated and you may develop one of more autoimmune diseases such as arthritis or lupus. A liver overloaded with pollutants and toxins cannot efficiently burn body fat, and thus will sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Common liver stressors are: caffeine, sugar, trans fats, medications and inadequate fibre.
Common Liver Detoxifiers: lemons, eggs, sugar-free cranberry, flaxseed oil, kale, cruciferous vegetables and garlic high in sulforaphane, dandelion root, turmeric, milk thistle and ginger.
(Excerpt: Louise Anne Gittleman - Fat Flush Plan)
Whilst walking in my neighbourhood, much to my delight, I came across a large rosemary bush. Ofcourse I couldn't help myself and cut a large handful of sprigs to make some tea with and also to have handy to use in my kitchen.
Pungent fresh rosemary has strong medicinal benefits, can fight the symptoms of colds and flu and help prevent diseases and has anti-ageing properties (my personal favourite).
Traditionally, rosemary has been used as a mental stimulant, memory booster, general tonic and to aid circulation. An infusion of rosemary tea has long been recommended by herbalists to treat colds, flu and rheumatism. Like several other herbs, rosmary has been shown to fight bacteria that can cause throat infections such as E.coli, and staphyloccocus, so an infusion of rosemary makes a good gargle. In addition, recent research has found that rosemary is one of the leading herbs for its antioxidant activity, helping to reduce the risk of diseases and ageing effects.
Rosemary dries well and retains some of its antioxidant effects
Hang sprigs up to dry in a warm kitchen then remove the leaves and store in an airtight container. Fresh rosemary leaves can be chopped and mixed with thyme, sage and oregano and then added to Mediterranean casseroles or omelette fillings. Use fresh or dried sprigs with garlic to season roast chicken or when making bread, add some chopped leaves to the mix.
Note: Avoid large quantities of rosemary when pregnant. Rosemary may have uterine and menstrual flow stimulant effects, it is best to avoid using it. It is safe in culinary amounts of a pinch here or there in food.
My Greek roots must have had an influence as feta cheese, being one of my favourite cheeses, I set out to find out the nutritional benefits and if any from eating it.
Feta is a well known soft, white brine cheese found in Greece and Cyprus.
It turns out that it is very nutritious and is an excellent source of calcium.
As part of Mediterranean cuisine, this cheese is used in all sorts of dishes — from appetizers to desserts — because it can enhance the taste of foods.
Most feta is made with milk from sheep and goats raised on local grass. It is this particular environment which gives the cheese its unique characteristics. Some feta can be found with a mixture of cow’s milk and goat’s/ sheep’s. Make sure to choose the goat’s/ sheep’s over the cow’s milk.
Feta is considered a fresh cheese because it has not been aged or cured. It is produced in blocks and is firm to the touch, yet easy to crumble.
Nutrients Found in Feta Cheese:
One ounce (28 grams) provides :
• Calories: 74
• Fat: 6 grams
• Protein: 4 grams
• Carbs: 1.1 grams
• Riboflavin: 14% of the RDI
• Calcium: 14% of the RDI
• Sodium: 13% of the RDI
• Phosphorus: 9% of the RDI
• Vitamin B12: 8% of the RDI
• Selenium: 6% of the RDI
• Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
• Zinc: 5% of the RDI
There are relatively decent amounts of vitamins A and K, folate, pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), iron and magnesium.
Compared to aged cheeses like cheddar or Parmesan, feta is lower in fat and calories.
Additionally, it contains more calcium and B vitamins than other fresh cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese or goat cheese.
It Can Support Bone Health: Feta cheese is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and protein, all of which have been proven to promote bone health. Calcium and protein help maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis, while phosphorus helps your bones absorb calcium.
Feta Cheese Is Good for Your Gut: Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria that can benefit your health. Feta has been shown to contain Lactobacillus plantarum, which accounts for about 48% of its bacteria. These bacteria can help promote immune system also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): CLA is a fatty acid found in animal products. It has been shown to help improve body composition, decreasing fat mass and increasing lean body mass. CLA may also help prevent diabetes and has shown anti-cancer effects. Greece has the highest consumption of cheese in the European Union and also the lowest incidence of breast cancer.
Disadvantages of Eating Feta:
Salt: Feta is high in salt. One serving contains 312 mg of sodium in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, which can account for up to 13% of your RDI. To reduce the salt content, you can rinse it with water before eating it.
Lactose: It is made from whole milk, hence it is higher in lactose. People intolerant to lactose should avoid eating feta.
Pregnant women: Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria found in water and soil that can contaminate crops and animals. Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid consuming raw vegetables and meats, as well as unpasteurized dairy products, because they have the potential to be contaminated with these bacteria.
Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk have a higher risk of carrying the bacteria than cheeses made with pasteurized milk. Therefore, feta cheese made with unpasteurized milk is not recommended for pregnant women.
How to Eat Feta Cheese:
Feta is quite a versatile cheese and can be added to a variety of dishes, such as salads, omelets, wholegrain bread, potatoes, cooked vegetables. It can also be grilled or cooked in dishes such as saganaki.
At the end of the day, feta cheese seems to be a healthy, delicious choice !
17/2/2017 0 Comments
If weight- loss is your main aim then counting calories or carbohydrates is a time-tested way to do it.
There are numerous studies which show that tracking your food intake and the amount of exercise that you do are effective ways to shed excess weight.
In fact calorie counting led participants of a study to lose 3.3kg more than those who didn’t and in another one where participants monitored everything that they ate for 12 weeks, lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t monitor consistently.
Those that did not monitor at all actually put on weight.
In conclusion the more consistent you are at recording, the better.
Counting calories whether on paper, online or in a mobile app helps you lose weight by giving you an overview of what you eat each day.
This in turn can help you identify eating patterns to correct which in turn keeps you on track to reach your health and weight goals.
There are several ways of counting calories or monitoring your food consumption. According to various studies, the method you pick doesn’t really matter so long as it’s the one that you have personally chosen and is most suited for you and your lifestyle.
The top four most popular apps are:
MyFitnessPal, Lose It, FatSecret and Cron-o-meter.
Most of us have a natural tendency to inaccurately estimate how many calories we eat. To counteract this, I suggest that for about two to three weeks you measure your food using cups or scales. This will help you measure food portions more accurately.
You might also want to try using the following visual guidelines to estimate your portion sizes. They’re less accurate, but useful if you have limited access to a scale or measuring cups:
An important point to take into account is that counting calories only allows you to evaluate your diet from a quantity perspective and not from a perspective of good quality, nutritious food.
When it comes to health, 100 calories from strawberries will affect your health differently than 100 calories from donuts.
Therefore, avoid picking foods solely based on their calorie content. Instead, make sure you also consider their vitamin and mineral contents. You can do so by picking foods which have been less processed i.e. the less brightly coloured packaging the food has the better !
The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn.
Those interested in monitoring their food or giving calorie counting a try, should keep in mind that not all calories are the same. Therefore, make sure to build your menu around whole nutrient dense foods and don’t base your food choices on calories alone.
In Asian cuisine seaweed is quite a common ingredient which most of us may be familiar with when we dine at Japanese restaurants. It is used in miso soup and nori sheets are used to make sushi amongst other things.
Eating seaweed is a fantastic way to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet which in turn may protect you from certain diseases.
What Is Seaweed?
Seaweed is a general term used to describe many different species of algae and marine plants.
The most common edible types of seaweed are red, green, blue-green and brown which can be eaten fresh, dried, cooked or as a powdered supplement.
Common types of seaweed are:
Seaweed is Especially High in Many Nutrients: Edible seaweed contains a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and trace elements at higher levels than other common foods. Dried seaweed varieties such as spirulina and chlorella are especially rich sources of complete protein.
Depending on where seaweed is sourced it differs in nutritional value, but generally, 100g of seaweed provides you with:
Dried algae is more concentrated in nutrients. One tablespoon (8 grams) is sufficient to provide most of the nutrient amounts listed above.
Twice as much protein is found in spirulina and chlorella per portion. Unlike other types of algae, they also contain all of the essential amino acids required by the human body. This makes them complete sources of protein.
There is some debate when it comes to vitamin B12 which is found naturally in meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Some claim that seaweed is a good plant source of vitamin B12 and others claim whether the form of vitamin B12 found in algae is active in humans. If you are vegan it is best not to rely on this source and to supplement your vitamin B12.
Seaweed is a rich source of antioxidants and they also contain good amounts of sulfated polysaccharides (sPS), which are beneficial plant compounds thought to contribute to seaweed’s health benefits.
Promote Thyroid Function: Your thyroid requires a good intake of iodine to function properly. Iodine is found in large amounts in seaweed. Failure to get enough iodine from the diet can lead to hypothyroidism. The iodine RDI is 150 micrograms per day. This requirement can be met by eating several servings of seaweed per week. Keep in mind that certain varieties such as kelp, kombu and dulse tend to contain very high amounts of iodine and should not be eaten frequently, or in high amounts. Others, such as spirulina, contain very little, so don’t rely on them as your only source of iodine.
Improve Heart Health: seaweed contains a good source of soluble fiber and contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids both of which are beneficial for heart health. In addition the sulfated polysaccharides (sPS) found in seaweed may have the ability to reduce blood pressure, prevent blood clotting, reduce LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
A two-month study gave type 2 diabetics either a spirulina supplement or a placebo every day. The supplement group’s triglyceride levels dropped by 24%.
Participants in the spirulina group also improved their LDL-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, whereas the ratio in the placebo group worsened.
In another study, a daily spirulina supplement reduced participants’ total cholesterol levels by 166% more than the placebo group over the two-month study period.
Participants in the seaweed group also reduced their LDL cholesterol levels by 154% more than the placebo group.
Although these results seem promising, not all studies found similar results and more human studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
It May Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels: Researchers believe that certain compounds found in seaweed may play a beneficial role in stabilizing blood sugar levels and preventing type 2 diabetes . Fucoxanthin, antioxidant that gives brown algae its characteristic color, is thought to help reduce insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Seaweed May Help You Lose Weight: Researchers believe this may be due, in part, to seaweed’s ability to affect your levels of the weight regulating hormone leptin. Combined with seaweed’s high fiber content, this may help reduce hunger and enhance feelings of fullness. Fucoidan, a type of sPS found in seaweed, may enhance fat breakdown and prevent its formation.
Studies in obese participants report that those given a seaweed supplement for 12–16 weeks lost around 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) more than those given a placebo. What’s more, seaweed is low in calories, making it a great low-calorie snack option.
Seaweed May Strengthen the Immune System: Marine plant compounds believed to have antioxidant, anti-allergenic and disease-protecting properties. Research shows that these compounds may have the ability to fight viruses such as herpes and HIV by blocking their entry into cells.
A recent study looked at the effects of taking seaweed supplements in HIV-positive women. Those given 5 grams of spirulina per day developed 27% fewer disease-related symptoms, compared to the placebo group.
However, no differences in immune cell levels were observed over the 12-week study period.
Additional studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Seaweed May Improve Gut Health: It is rich in fiber, which can help prevent constipation and ensure smooth digestion.
It also contains agars, carrageenans and fucoidans, which are thought to act as prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
The more good bacteria you have in your gut, the less space there is for harmful bacteria to thrive.
It May Reduce the Risk of Cancer: The presence of seaweed in your diet may help reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
For instance, researchers believe that seaweed may help decrease estrogen levels, potentially reducing women’s risk of developing breast cancer.
The soluble fiber found in seaweed may also help protect against the development of colon cancer .
What’s more, some studies suggest that a class of compounds found in brown varieties, such as kelp, wakame and kombu, may help prevent the spread of cancerous cells.
Other Potential Benefits: Seaweed may offer some additional protection against metabolic syndrome, skin damage, bone disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Is Eating Seaweed Safe?: Eating fresh seaweed is considered to be safe for most people. Consuming it regularly or in high amounts may cause some side effects. Depending on where they’re grown, some varieties of seaweed can contain high levels of mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the levels of these chemicals and heavy metals in fresh seaweed. However, supplements are not regulated and may contain levels that are detrimental to health. It is important to find a company that you can trust.
A High Intake May Interfere With Kidney Function and Blood Thinners: Certain varieties of seaweed may contain high levels of sodium and potassium, which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney disease.
Seaweed also contains vitamin K, which may interfere with blood-thinning medications. Those taking blood thinners should make sure to check with a doctor before making it a regular part of their diet.
Some Are Very High in Iodine and May Interfere With Thyroid Function: While iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function, getting too much iodine can be harmful.
Kelp, dulse and kombu are types of seaweed with the tendency to contain very high levels of iodine. For instance, 25 grams of fresh kombu can contain close to 22 times more iodine than the safe daily limit.Therefore, these varieties should not be consumed too often, nor in large quantities.
Where to Find Seaweed and How to Eat It: In Cyprus seaweed can be purchased dried from most Asian corner shops, healthfood shops and some supermarkets.
In addition to their use for sushi, nori sheets can also easily be used to replace tortilla bread when making wraps.
Wakame can be soaked and made into a salad with some avocado, lettuce and pine nuts. I sometimes add it to my pulse dishes which is a good way to make them more nutritious as it releases all those minerals into your food.
Dried nori or dulse make for nice savory snacks. Or, try crumbling them over salads to add a dash of umami flavor.
Spirulina and chlorella can be added to smoothies, while kelp can be used instead of salt to add flavor to just about anything.
Many types of seaweed can also be incorporated into warm dishes, including pulses, soups, stews and baked goods. Get imaginative ! There’s no right or wrong way to go about it.
Delicious and nutritious, berries are among some of the healthiest foods that you can add to your diet, providing a number of health benefits.
Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet:
1. Berries Are High in Antioxidants
Berries are high in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol which protect your cells and reduce the risk of disease.
The berries which have the highest antioxidant activity next to pomegranates are blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Several studies have shown that antioxidants in berries may help to reduce oxidative stress, making it an ideal addition especially to an athlete’s diet.
A single 300 – 500g portion of berries was found to protect against free radical damage.
2. Berries May Balance Blood Sugar and Improve Insulin Response
Berries may balance blood sugar and insulin levels in healthy people and those with insulin resistance. In a six week study, obese, insulin-resistant people who consumed a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than the group who consumed smoothies without berries.
3. Berries Are High in Fiber
Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness. This helps to decrease your calorie intake and makes weight-loss easier.
Berries are a low sugar, high fiber fruit. In one-cup of berries there are:
4. Berries Provide Many Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to being low in sugar and calories, berries are extremely nutritious. Strawberries are high in vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C.
With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral contents.
5. Berries are Anti-inflammatory
Berries have anti-inflammatory qualities which help to decrease to the development of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among other diseases. They also help to speed up recovery in athletes caused from post-exercise soreness.
6. Berries May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Berries (especially black raspberries and strawberries) are a heart-healthy food which have been shown to lower cholesterol in obese people and those with metabolic syndrome.
When obese people consumed 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries for eight weeks, their oxidized LDL levels decreased by 28%.
7. Berries for Beautiful Skin
Berries may help reduce skin wrinkling. This makes sense, given that the antioxidants in berries help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to skin aging related to sun-damage.
8. Antioxidants in Berries May Protect Against Cancer
Several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol, may reduce the risk of cancer (esophagus, mouth, breast and colon). Berries have been shown to reduce markers associated with tumor growth in animals and people with several types of cancer.
In one study, 20 patients with colon cancer consumed 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried raspberries for 1–9 weeks. This treatment was found to improve tumor markers in some patients, although not in all.
9. Berries Keep Your Arteries Healthy
In addition to lowering cholesterol, berries provide other benefits for heart health. Berries have been found to improve arterial function in several studies of healthy people, those with metabolic syndrome and smokers
Berries make a wonderful, delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. Add them to your smoothie, health bars, healthy oat cookies or muffins, yogurt or snack on them with a handful of almonds.
Fresh berries are considered the healthiest, followed by frozen and freeze or sun-dried. Baked commercial berry products are considered processed and hence it is better to avoid them.
For most healthy people, it’s perfectly okay to have a snack before bed, yet keep in mind that there is no recipe for an ideal bedtime snack, only some guidelines.
Avoid Junk Foods and Sugary Desserts: Loading up on sugary, processed junk foods like ice-cream or crisps right before isn’t a good idea. These foods are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and salt which trigger cravings and overeating. They make it very easy to exceed your daily calorie needs for the day.
Eating before bed doesn’t necessarily make you put on weight, but filling up on high calorie foods certainly can.
If you happen to have a sweet tooth, try some low-sugar berries a couple of squares of dark chocolate or if you crave for something salty have a small handful of salty, roasted pistachios, almonds or other nuts or seeds.
Combine Protein or Fat With Carbs: If you don’t have any stomach or digestive problems combining complex carbohydrates with protein and a little healthy fat is a good way to do it.
Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables provide you with a steady source of energy as you fall asleep.
Teaming it up with protein or a small amount of fat can help keep you full through the night and keep your blood sugar stable.
Some evidence suggests that eating a carb-rich meal with a high glycemic index before bed can help you fall asleep. The reason for this is that carbohydrates improve the transportation of tryptophan an amino acid, which can be converted into neurotransmitters that help regulate sleep. The same effect you may also receive from tryptophan rich foods such as fish, red meat, poultry and dairy.
In other studies a meal rich in fat can improve sleep quality.
Some snack ideas include an apple with peanut butter, whole grain crackers and a slice of turkey, or cheese and grapes.
Conclusion: eating a carb with protein and fat snack before bed is fine for most people if you haven’t surpassed the amount of calories needed for the day. A definite no, no is eating junk foods and desserts before bed.
So the big question. Should you eat before bed ?
The answer to whether or not it’s a bad idea to eat before bed really depends on you and your habits.
It’s not a good idea to make a habit of snacking on unhealthy foods before bed. It’s also unwise to eat a large portion of your calories during the night.
Keeping that in mind, it’s perfectly fine for most people to have a healthy snack before they Zzzzzz. :))
We all know that stress can be hard on the stomach. Remember the last time you felt nervous, I am sure that you had an iffy feeling in your gut.
The truth is that the impact of stress on the stomach goes far beyond indigestion. In recent years, scientists and doctors have discovered a remarkably complex connection between the brain and the digestive system. In fact the entire system is extremely sensitive to our moods.
Experts now see stress as a major player in a wide range of digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and heartburn.
In fact people who are “continually sick” with infections are the ones who have a tendency to suffer from long term low-grade stress. Stress affects the whole body, but it is the immune system that is most affected by chronic low-grade stress.
People under chronic low-grade stress had above normal levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune-system protein that promotes inflammation and has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, severe infections and certain cancers. It appears that stress increases levels of IL-6, which in turn accelerates a variety of age-related diseases.
The Brain and the Digestive System
Most of us talk about "gut feelings," but few of us really appreciate the amazingly strong connections between the brain and the digestive system. Did you know that the stomach and intestines actually have more nerve cells than the entire spinal cord, leading some experts to call the digestive system a "mini brain." There is a highway of nerves which runs directly from the real brain to the digestive system, and messages flow in two directions.
To make a point; 95 percent of the body's serotonin -- a hormone that helps control mood -- is found in the digestive system, not the brain.
Under stress the brain releases a number of hormones that can badly affect the digestive system. One of these hormones is called CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) which is one of the body’s main alarm bells. In stressful situations, the brain produces CRH which in turn triggers the adrenal glands to start making steroids and adrenaline, chemicals connected to “fight or flight” situations.
CRH can diminish your appetite which explains why some people don’t want to eat anything when stressed or it can make you hungry explaining why others turn to foods (usually junk foods) when stressed or upset.
As we can see, different people have different responses to stress, yet we can say through observation that short-term stress can cause stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea. In the long-term, prolonged stress can aggravate chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and cause stomach ulcers.
According to a report from the University of North Carolina, as many as 80 percent of people with IBS or another functional gastrointestinal problem never discuss symptoms with a doctor or other health professional… There is no need to suffer in silence.
Firstly it is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor so that you can check for any underlying diseases that might explain the symptoms. A doctor can also prescribe medication that will help to get the digestive system back on track temporarily. It is important to go to the root of the problem.
Healing in most cases involves a holistic approach which is a combination of healthy eating, (nutrition), exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and relaxation techniques such as power chiyoga, meditation (breathing exercises) and time spent outdoors in nature.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !