Tim Garrett explains why he believes the food you eat could be key to regulating your stress levels at work
Stress accounts for billions of dollars worth of lost productivity for companies across the Gulf Cooperation Council.
I am going to explain why stress can be so damaging, the scientific impact it has on the body and – critically – what you can do to beat it.
I have spent many years studying breathing, sleep, digestion, movement, stress and nutrition – classically known as the holistic health systems. While they are all important, nutrition is so critical that I now spend most of my time coaching clients in this area.
Nutrition is often a major player when it comes to many health challenges including those as diverse as Alzheimer’s, poor digestion, cancer or arthritis.
It is certainly one of the most important factors when it comes to coping with life’s inevitable stressors and recovering from stressful periods or events in one’s life.
The root cause of all diseases, or health imbalances, is a lack of energy leading to degeneration and damaged cell metabolism. Why is that important to you? Well, you can use that knowledge to guide your diet, lifestyle and mental and emotional choices in life so that you do not get ill.
When you have unresolved issues that are causing you mental or emotional stress, you are damaging your cells (the building blocks of your body), leading to every health imbalance known to man. It is therefore very important that you take time to brainstorm where most of your stress is coming from and try your best to reduce it.
It must be noted that there can of course be other factors that contribute toward cell degeneration. These include chemicals in our environments and food, electromagnetic frequencies and other factors.
There is also a level of stress that no nutritional strategy can safeguard against, but in ‘normal’ or what many people consider very stressful situations if you get your nutrition right then you can come out of the other side a stronger person.
“Nutrition is often a major player when it comes to many health challenges, including those as diverse as Alzheimer’s, poor digestion, cancer or arthritis. It is certainly one of the most important factors when it comes to coping with life’s inevitable stressors”
Between 60 and 70 per cent of the people I meet on corporate wellness programmes suffer from altered cell metabolism and hormone imbalances that are coupled with a host of symptoms that destroy their quality of life.
In all of these cases these people are not doing the right things nutritionally, but the necessary changes are easy ones to make.
Sugar is something that is worth looking at. It is a common misconception that all sugar is bad for you. While there is certainly a difference in the quality of sugars available, it is important to realise that sugar is not always the bad guy.
The healthier sugars you should focus on to be healthy and happy are mainly those that come from fruits. These are easily used by your body.
Healthy sugars can be found in juices like orange juice which has a high amount of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium that help the body use the sugar without causing an insulin spike.
Other juices that can be beneficial are tropical fruits like melon, mango, watermelon, papaya and red grape.
These easily usable sugars can be an important safeguard against stress.
When you look at a hormone chart detailing the most common hormones in the body and what is used to make them, sugar is right at the top of the list. Alongside it are key vitamins, minerals, cholesterol and protein.
This means that to make all of the important and protective hormones in the body you need to have enough easily usable sugars.
For example, sugar is used to manufacture cholesterol effectively. The ineffective and dangerous alternative when your body isn’t supplied with that sugar is that it breaks your body’s tissues to create sugar itself.
Cholesterol is one of the body’s most important hormones, contrary to what you might have read. It is an extremely powerful antioxidant that protects the body against stress and is produced the instant you experience stress for they very reason.
When your body has enough easily usable sugars and can manufacture enough cholesterol then you can produce enough of the healthy hormones progesterone and pregnenelone, DHEA and testosterone.
All of which give your body and your mind a healthy balance.
This balance can be encouraged by the right amount of protein, too. You can get this with the equivalent of two chicken breasts per day, though I prefer meat that is highly saturated like beef or lamb.
Other stress-busters include certain key vitamins and minerals like vitamin D3, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin E, along with good quality fats like butter and coconut oil. Other areas of your life might need addressing too.
If you need to make changes regarding your sleep, unresolved mental or emotional issues and moving your body in the right way then be proactive in doing these. But for most people it is nutrition that can really make or break your stress levels in the workplace. So always be sure to keep an eye on what you are consuming.