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Stress And Cortisol Causing Weight Gain? Foods And Recipes To Help With Stress!

Here's what you will get in this article:

I discuss helpful stress and anxiety-fighting nutrients and foods such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Carbohydrates, Vitamin E and more.

We look at 3 possible culprits adding to stress levels, and at the likelihood of a link between stress and weight loss struggles.

Finally I give you two stress-busting recipes, the B-Calm Smoothie and the Stress-Stopper Juice!

- Rika Susan


By Paul Söderholm of Gnurf.net

Are you also struggling to cope with a packed schedule and the never-ending family demands at home? A routine that often leads to anxiety and stress - two of the all too familiar, yet unwelcome visitors in today's world!

Did you know that this daily stress and the hormone cortisol can contribute to weight gain? Cortisol is a stress hormone that can play havoc during times of stress and emotional upheaval. Ever wondered why you feel particularly hungry and peckish when you are anxious or stressed out? This can be due to elevated cortisol as a result of the stress.

Cortisol may also be contributing to your cravings for fatty or sweet foods at such times and lead to binge eating.

Luckily there are specific foods you can choose to reduce stress and to combat anxiety...

Certain nutrients can be a powerful support in your daily routine, helping to keep you calm and more relaxed. They may also enable you to enjoy a better sleep quality at night. A bonus is that they could help you to break the cycle that leads to stress-related weight gain.

So, let's make sure that you know exactly which goodies can be helpful when stress comes knocking...


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"I was very pleased with the quick response from Rika and her extensive knowledge about greens and how to make good tasting juices. I look forward to visiting the site in the future as I juice my way to good health."
- Gail S
Rika Susan


First on the list is a look at the nutrients and foods you can focus on if you are struggling with stress and anxiety.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for lowering stress hormones, fighting anxiety and keeping depression at bay. Omega-3 fatty acids really act as powerful, natural mood-boosters[1]. While certain veggies such as broccoli also contain omega-3 fatty acids, your best sources are fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Try to eat fish 2 to 3 times a week. You will also be doing your cardiovascular system a huge favor if you do this!

Other helpful sources of omega-3 fatty acids are nuts and a variety of seeds. Try walnuts or ground flax seed, for instance.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium plays a role in hundreds of reactions in your body. You need magnesium for normal functioning of your nervous system and your muscles. It also keeps your bones strong and healthy. In addition it can help with blood sugar control and energy metabolism.

Stress, aging and certain medications may contribute to imbalances in stress hormones and magnesium deficiencies.

Magnesium has a calming effect on your nervous system and your muscles. In addition, it can induce relaxation, so that you can get more sleep at night.

Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach are rich in magnesium. You can also eat nuts, seeds such as pumpkin seeds, lentils, legumes and avocados to increase your intake of magnesium. Another incentive to add leafy greens to veggie juice and smoothies!

It is also good to keep in mind that both carbohydrate metabolism and insulin in your body can be influenced by magnesium[2]. So, it really is important to make sure that your magnesium intake is adequate. In fact, there are indications that optimal intake of magnesium may help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

3. Carbohydrates

When it comes to your mood, anxiety, sleep patterns and even how much you eat, serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters to keep in mind.

Carbs, especially the complex ones are superb for prompting your brain to produce more feel-good serotonin. Oats (rather skip the instant type for best results), whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain cereals and breads are all helpful here. An added benefit is that these carbs can also aid in regulating blood sugar.

You can also make sure that you eat a wide variety of berries, as well as cherries. These are top-rated carbs, high in fiber (the soluble fiber is retained when you make veggie juice), are low GI foods and you can't get a better stress-busting antioxidant boost!

Any berries will do, from blueberries to strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Juice them, use them in smoothies, sprinkle them over your breakfast cereal, pop them into desserts...look for any excuse to use them! Luckily the frozen ones are almost as good as the fresh ones.

Berries are the best when it comes to fighting free radical damage in your body, so enjoy! They are excellent for eye health and for stopping age-related degenerative diseases in their tracks. A big bonus is that they can also boost your brain function!

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is not only helpful in improving cognitive function and reducing the risk of developing age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. This nutrient may also help to lift depression and reduces stress and anxiety.

Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts are good sources of vitamin E. You can also opt for sunflower seeds or veggies such as spinach and swiss chard. Berries, avocados and mangos are also good choices.

5. B-Vitamins

The range of B-vitamins are important for the health of your nervous system as a whole. These include nutrients like folate, biotin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.

This group of vitamins can be found in most of your fruits and veggies such as broccoli, arugula, kale, spinach, asparagus, bell peppers and avocados (try some guacamole!). Fish, liver, eggs, lentils, peas, beans and nuts are also good sources.

The B-vitamins not only play a role in lowering stress, but can also help to protect brain function as you age.

A bonus is that avocados are also superb for regulating blood sugar. And, due to their healthy fats and high potassium content, they may play a role in reducing the high blood pressure that can be caused by too much stress.

6. Vitamin C

Research[3] is indicating that some of our common nutrients may enable your body to keep production of your stress hormones at a lower level. Cortisol is one such hormone. An important nutrient that seems to play a role here is vitamin C.

While cortisol has a crucial contribution to make in terms of our health, too much of it can affect the way your brain functions and may influence the storage of fat in your body.

So, a nutrient that can help to stabilize the release of this hormone when your body produces too much of it, sounds like a good deal!

Some of the best sources of vitamin C are kiwi fruit, strawberries and other berries, citrus fruits, guava, watermelon, papaya, mango, yellow bell peppers, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, parsley and cilantro.


Are These 3 Culprits Contributing To Your Stress?

Alcohol

You may think that it is good for you to unwind with a drink after a demanding day. However, the effects of alcohol can eventually add further mood swings, anxiety and stress. Your nutrient-rich veggie juice is likely to have a much better long term effect on your mood and your health!

Sugary comfort foods

Find yourself diving into the ice cream tub, cookie jar or chocolates at the end of a long day? Yes, that is exactly why these are called 'comfort' foods! That is what you desire at that moment. Unfortunately these choices can play havoc with your blood sugar levels. When blood sugar goes haywire, you follow!

The result? More severe mood swings and even less control over your stress level or anxiety...

The antidote? Try to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy, wholesome stress-busting snacks you can enjoy. Snacks that can contribute to reducing your stress or anxiety, rather than adding to it.

Caffeine

Trying to get yourself pumped up with coffee or energy drinks during the day? Remember that all the caffeine in these beverages will also pump up your anxiety and stress levels! Try to cut out energy drinks and reduce your intake of coffee. Try to drink more water, have some chamomile or rooibos tea and don't forget your veggie juice!


Could there be a link between your weight loss struggles and stress?

There is a very real possibility that this is the case! Research studies are pointing to a link between higher cortisol levels and an increase in belly fat, or what is referred to as central obesity.

Cortisol levels go up when you are stressed out and down when you are calm and relaxed. If you are more susceptible to stress and anxiety, you are very likely to have a cortisol level that is elevated.

There is a correlation between higher cortisol levels[4] and weight gain or an increase in fat storage, particularly around the waistline. Elevated cortisol can also lead to cravings for fatty or sweet things. It may also explain that appetite that you can't seem to get under control when you are stressed. In addition, it may affect the regulation of important fat-fighting hormones such as leptin.

This can become a vicious cycle that can increase your risk for developing heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. So, it is vital for your health to learn to manage the daily stresses you experience.


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Recipes To Reduce Stress

B-Calm Smoothie

1 Cup skim milk
1 Cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 Cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 Peeled banana (I like mine frozen)
1 Peeled kiwi fruit
1 Tbs ground flax seed
Handful ground almonds
Optional: 2 Tsp honey as a sweetener

Method:
1. Cut banana and kiwi into chunks
2. Pour milk and yogurt into your blender
3. Add the berries, banana, kiwi, nuts and seeds
4. Blend for a couple of minutes or until thick, frothy and smooth
5. Blend in the honey if necessary, according to taste
6. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Servings:
3 Medium

Stress-Stopper Juice

1/2 Beet
4 Medium carrots
2 Firm kiwi fruit
1 Red apple
1 Pear
Handful baby spinach leaves
4 Brussels sprouts
1/2 Lime
Optional: Shredded coconut for added sweetness

Method:
1. Discard the carrot and beet greens
2. Wash all the ingredients
3. Peel beet if you prefer this. A young beet can be left as is. Cut into chunks
4. Trim carrot ends
5. Peel kiwi fruit thinly
6. Quarter apple and pear. Don't peel, but discard seeds
7. Roll spinach leaves into balls for juicing
8. Peel lime thinly, leaving as much white pith as possible
9. Juice, alternating softer and harder items for best results
10. Stir in some shredded coconut if you enjoy this
11. Pour over crushed ice and serve

Servings:
2 Medium


What else can you do, apart from focusing on foods that can help with stress and anxiety?

  • Get enough aerobic exercise
  • Make sure that you get enough sleep
  • Learn to meditate
  • Practice deep breathing a few times a day
  • Learn to do progressive relaxation exercises when you are stressed and before bedtime
With a bit of practice and the right foods, you will begin to find it much easier to stay calm and relaxed irrespective of the demands of your day! How about getting a friend to partner with you in learning to keep stress under control in a constructive way?

> From the juicing for health desk of Rika Susan

References:
1.Magnesium
2.Nuts and seeds are brain foods
3. Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body's Response To Stress
4. Cortisol Connection




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