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Stress affects your health and fitness
We are used to thinking of the body as a set of individual districts that, when there is a problem, need to be analyzed separately.
Colitis/swollen abdomen? --> We're looking for the problem in the bowel
Burning/Reflux? -->We're looking for the problem in the stomach
Menstrual cycle alterations --> We look for the problem at the level of the uterus and ovaes
The body (unfortunately and fortunately) is much more complex than that. The body has many limbs and, those limbs, constitute a single body,
The body is unique and, therefore, we must not focus on a single district. By focusing on a single detail, instead of looking at the situation in full, we risk losing sight of the context and the wider picture. This is a concept that applies both in terms of health and performance and aesthetics.
Think reflux or that annoying feeling of slow digestion and heaviness after meals. Sometimes it can really be an "anatomical and functional" problem (e.g. an iatale hernia, hypochloridria, etc.) but, often and willingly, the cause is the hectic and stressful lifestyle typical of our days. Under these conditions, it will be useless to take anacids or remedies of any kind. They are temporary remedies that act on the symptom and not on the cause upstream.
Behind burn and reflux there may be weak iris or a diaphragm stuck in inhale (very frequent situation).
The constant pressure of the diaphragm on the stomach can induce spasms of the esophageal orifice (cardias) thus involving gastroesophageal reflux and a slowdown in gastric emptying. A "blocked" diaphragm, in turn, can be due to stress, poor breathing, a weak and un-trained abdominal core.
A first step towards improvement can be diaphragm breathing exercise and core-stability
Core Training Exercises
When we talk about "core" we don't just talk about abdominal muscles (so no endless crunch).
The core includes:
- Transverse and abdominal muscles
- Also and attached muscles
- Pelvic floor
- Shoulder blades and upperback muscles
Quiet! The exercises for the core can be done safely at home and in a few minutes. If you are an active and constantly training people, you can put them in your warm up (heating).
Breathing exercises can be done for 1-2 minutes before bed or in the morning as soon as you wake up until it becomes more natural for you to breathe like that.
Stress and Mind: Consequences on the Body
First mind, the body will improve accordingly
Stress is defined in the literature as a form of adaptation to external stresses (called stressor). Without it, there would be no adaptation and, therefore, improvement.
So it's not always something negative!
Stressor can be of various kinds:
a physical pain, a concern, the anxiety of having to do a certain job, a particularly important interview or intervention, a painful memory or that creates upset; environmental factors such as the pressures received from the boss or the workplace, the deadlines for the delivery of tasks or processes, being stuck in traffic at the risk of delaying an important appointment, the queue at the post office that makes us waste time! The ambient temperature itself can be stressful!
Stress, inflammation, cortisol are all things that, in ACUTE, are positive. It is chronically that problems occur.
Stress affects food choices. A very stressed person will tend to eat more and, above all, more sweet foods. The dessert momentarily increases the levels of serotonin in circulation and this will give a feeling of well-being. Feeling only momentary thus enter a vicious circle. Stress can also impair performance and digestive processes.
Tips to reduce Stress at the Table
Here, therefore, some practical advice to "lower stress" before and during the meal and enter what is called parasympathetic mode.
Sympathetic Mode --> Fight or Run
Parasympathetic Mode --> Relax and Digest
- Drink a 300-500 mL water bolus before the meal (it is not for "satiate" but to hydrate and prepare for digestive processes)
- Eat seated, in a relaxed atmosphere
- Eat slowly, savoring what you have on your plate
- Don't eat in a hurry, between one thing and another/in front of the PC/continuing to work
- Eat in silence
- Chew every bite many times before swallowing
- Be grateful for the food you have on your plate
- Pay attention to the signals that make you understand if you still have an appetite or if you are satiant (if you eat in a hurry you will not notice certain signs)
- Learn to cook by including a variety of tastes and flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy and astringent. Each taste has a subtle but distinct effect on our physiology
- If you have little appetite, turn it on by eating a few pieces of ginger or taking advantage of spices such as pepper and chilli
- Take advantage of aromatherapy: bergamot aroma if you have little appetite, lavender or sandalwood aroma to promote a relaxing atmosphere (do not use pungent aromas)
- In the evening, at dinner, use soft light or warm light and relaxing music in the background.
Use your breath to lower stress
Before you start your meal, sit in silence and close your eyes. So do this (it takes 1-2 minutes!):
- Breathes slowly, counting thin to 3
- Hold your breath, counting up to 3
- Exhale slowly, counting to 3
- Repeat 3-5 times
This simple and, apparently, banal exercise will help you lower stress hormones, prepare the body to take nutrients and, therefore, improve and facilitate digestive processes.
What not to do during meals
- Don't get up snappy right after your meal
- Don't watch TV, drive or fight while you eat
- If you have little time to eat because you are at work, prefer a quick, light but nutritious snack (1 Greek yogurt + fresh fruit + dried fruit/dark chocolate is an example of a fast meal but complete with all macronutrients)
- Don't eat if, at that moment, your mood is swinging (you're upset/depressed/nervous)
- Don't have solid meals while you're working out
- Don't eat while driving
- Don't eat if... You have no appetite. Many eat only "because it is time": this is wrong, you lose the ability to listen to the signals of your body and you get used to eating even without appetite
- When you prepare your meal, ask yourself "how hungry am I from 1 to 10?"
- 0-2 --> Don't eat, drink a 300-500 mL water bolus
- 2-4 --> Eat a handful (15-20g) of dried fruit or oilseeds or dark chocolate (80% up). Then drink a 300-400 mL water bolus
- 4-6 --> Eat a handful (15-20g) of dried fruit or oilseeds or dark chocolate (80% up) + a portion of fresh fruit or 1 white yogurt
- 6-8 --> Eat a portion of protein that takes up half your plate about (meat/fish/eggs/tofu/seitan et al.) + 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning (oilseeds, extra virgin olive oil, ghee, coconut oil) + vegetables/vegetables to surround the dish
- 8-10 --> Prepare a dish that consists of a portion of carbohydrates (rice/quinoa/barley/pasta/potatoes), one of protein + 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning (oilseeds, extra virgin olive oil, ghee, coconut oil) + vegetables/vegetables to surround the dish
Don't you want to weigh in and count? Take advantage of a flat plate (diameter from about 24-26 cm) and have the carbohydrates occupy 1/4 of the dish, the proteins another quarter, vegetables and vegetables 1/2 of the dish. Seasonings 1 tablespoon/2 teaspoons.
All this to make you feel better: from a digestive, energetic point of view (more energy to deal with the different activities) and aesthetic.
Dott.ssa Patalano Myriam Biologist Nutritionist
Ischia Nutrizione Patalano