Stress refers to anything that disturbs the person’s physical, emotional or mental balance. There are the 'clinical' stressors that we can easily identify, such as anger, fear, worry, anxiety and guilt but there are also 'sub-clinical' stressors that we may not be aware of, including: a high carbohydrate diet; nutrient deficiencies; lack of sleep; chronic inflammation; allergies and intolerances; toxic exposure; overworking, and many more.
All this stress is cumulative and research shows that it is relatively common for your current state of health to be affected by stressors that have built up over months, years, even decades.
There are two endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys called the adrenal glands - they are your body's 'stress-busters.'
Their role is to produce hormones that help you to adapt to the stress you are experiencing at any given moment.
This adaptogenic process has been termed ‘allostasis’, and the ‘allostatic load’ is used to describe the 'amount' of stress someone is carrying. In certain situations long-term accumulated stress may reset the body’s systems at too high (or eventually too low) a level, leading to dysfunction in body systems and tissues. The allostatic load therefore is forced to adapt to various psychological, physical and environmental stressors through life. The adrenal glands play a central role in this stress adaptation process. By producing hormones that act as chemical messengers to co-ordinate the body’s response to various stressors they help the body adapt and maintain stability during all forms of stress.
The primary hormones produced are adrenaline - to acute, short-term stress, and cortisol, produced every second to manage long-term, on-going (chronic) stress.
It makes sense then that if we want to help our bodies to be able to manage and cope with stress responses we must support optimal function of the adrenal glands.
The most beneficial dietary intervention for supporting healthy adrenal gland function is to maintain stabilised blood sugar levels by eating regular balanced meals that include plenty of brightly coloured, non-starchy vegetables, some quality protein and a little healthy fat. You do not need extra carbohydrate but can add a small amount of complex carbohydrate food if desired.
You should avoid stimulants such as caffeine, cola, alcohol and smoking, and drink plenty of fresh water.