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All stress, whether it's actual or perceived stress (worry we make up in our heads), cause a physiological response in our body. The brain triggers your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline speeds up heart rate, increases blood pressure and boosts energy. Cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, shifts energy away from the digestive and immune systems to prepare for an "alarmed" state and increases blood sugar levels and the brain's uptake of glucose.


While some stress can be positive, the problem arises when there is ongoing, chronic stress – when one worry or stress is followed by another, and it just seems like it never ends. Day-to-day demands, worry, tension and poor lifestyle habits cause your adrenals to fire constantly, and cortisol levels are released in excess.


Here are some of the chronic effects that excess cortisol has on your body:

  • Weight-gain (especially belly fat and the inability to burn fat)
  • Interferes with the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can lead to clinical depression,
    anxiety disorders and insomnia
  • Interrupts sleep
  • Can cause mental clutter and poor concentration
  • Breaks down collagen and speeds up the aging process
  • Increases blood pressure, blood clotting and cholesterol levels
  • Suppresses the immune system
  • Increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Promotes insulin resistance (which leads to additional belly fat)
  • Increases levels of estrogen, which also leads to weight-gain and mood swings
  • Increases cravings


All this stressing you out? No need to fret – here are some simple solutions that help your body cope.


1. Add Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs such as Maca, increase the body's resistance to stress, and ability to 'adapt'. It helps to alleviate anxiety, stress and trauma by restoring the body's natural balance and homeostasis. Maca improves hormonal communication (without effecting blood hormone levels) and mitigates levels of cortisol, helping your body respond to stress.


2. Eat foods rich in Vitamins B and C.

B-vitamins are stress-busting. They are essential in the production of our feel-good neurotransmitters. And while B6 is especially important in terms of busting stress, it's also the first to be depleted in the presence of stress.


Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that also helps curb the large spikes in cortisol as a response to mental stress. Foods rich in Vitamin C include camu camu, maca, red peppers, strawberries and black currents; while foods rich in B6 include raw cashews, red peppers, spinach and bananas.

Get some good shut-eye.

Sleep helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it's stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.

Balance exercise, relaxation and sleep

Exercise releases endorphins increasing your feeling of happiness. Yoga and meditation in particular help to calm your mind, engage your breath and boost your spirit. Sleep also helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it's stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.

5. Think positively

Most of the stress in our life is perceived stress - things wecreate in our head. Change the way you look at and think about things. Find a new perspective. Always think in the positive. Shiny, happy thoughts!

6. Laugh it off!
Take a deep breath and … LAUGH OUT LOUD! Laughter really isthe best medicine!



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Tags: Maca, cortisol, hormones, peggy, stress, tips


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Comment by Lani Muelrath, M.A., CGFI, CPBN on February 13, 2012 at 6:23am

Great advice Peggy and I like that you are underscoring the importance of stress managament.  It plays a bigger role than we might suspect in our health, weight, energy, and happiness.

Two easy stress-combaters are 5 minutes of exercise and 5 minutes of meditation.  BOTH have been shown to restore oomph to  pre-frontal cortex of the brain, reducing fight-or-flight symptoms and shoring up 'willpower' for future reference as the day goes on.  They can actually be called 'willpower workouts'.  Here's an easy 5 minute meditation:  5 minute anti-anxiety paint and willpower workout: How to meditate ...

Comment by Judy A Etherington on February 6, 2012 at 12:41pm

Thanks Jacqueline for the reminder... so important!

Comment by Jacqueline Park on February 6, 2012 at 8:01am

I know that a lot of our focus is on nutrition and food - but don't forget about the super important mind-body connection!

Positive outlook, spending time with loved ones and outside - good ol vitamin D sunshine is crucial!

Yoga is an amazing tool for creating a strong mind-body connection, a sense of calm and a healthy appreciation for everything!

Comment by Kerry Werth on February 6, 2012 at 7:43am

thanks for the feed back!

Comment by Alexa on February 5, 2012 at 6:26pm

Wow crazy, 

I've been way stressing lately and unable to get a good nights sleep and I started craving bananas, cashews, strawberries, and spinach so weird! And then I read this, how funny! It's crazy how the body makes you crave the things you need sometimes. :) My cortisol levels must be high.  

Comment by Kerry Baker on February 4, 2012 at 6:03pm

Two excellent herbs I can recommend from personal experience are rhodiola and kanna.  Rhodiola is being used to treat depression, but also extends your athletic capacity.  It is an adaptogen.  Kanna is a brilliant herb for managing stress and depression.  And yes maca is fantastic also and has benefits about helping hormonal issues, recommended for menopause for example.  For migraines, you should get your zinc levels checked as this along with calcium fluoride are what helps maintain tissue tightness and elasticity.  Sometimes migraines can be triggered when the digestive tract walls need tightening and as they can slacken allow larger bits of food through undigested which the body attacks as an invader and causes migraine. Our soils are pretty depleted of minerals in any case.   Of course there can be many reasons but these are a couple of suggestions to see about.  Cheers.

Comment by Shanon Stranik on February 4, 2012 at 11:38am
Hey all! If you are prone to migraines, then consider trying whole ground maca, instead of gelatinized. Sensitive people can have negative symptoms occur with the gelatinized and be ok when taking the whole version. Just what I've found with some people!
Comment by Kerry Werth on February 4, 2012 at 11:23am

Thanks for the info Judy. I have diabeties and am controlling it without drugs. Therefore, I completely avoid products that have refined sugar in them.

Thanks Christine, I have been wanting to order the maca from Vega, thanlks for the info Christine, as I was getting migraines regularly, however, once I started my smoothies with kale, chia, hemp seed with fresh blue berries, black berries, cinnamon  with fresh coconut water and its jelly ( straight from our garden) , my migraines went away. Therefore I will take your advise and start maca in small amounts. By the way, I make home made enegy puddings and recovery puddings from the thrive cook book and love them!

Comment by Judy A Etherington on February 4, 2012 at 10:28am

I tried the VEGA Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer - BERRY Flavour and my migraine's started within a few days and went away when I stopped it.  I wonder if they have any sample packages that I could try before purchasing the Vega one? 

Thank you for your information Christine.  I add many greens (spinach, kale, aurgula, parsley, collard greens), a banana, chia, clorella, macha tea powder, hemp seeds, and coconut oil with almond milk.   It's jam-packed with good things.  I've been having my smoothie for a couple of years now and I have amazing energy even though I have cancer, been through 3 surgeries and 13 months of chemo.  I still have cancer but the smoothies keep me going.   Maybe I don't even need the shake and go either, (I worry about the sugars in the mix). 



Comment by Christine on February 4, 2012 at 10:04am

I take up to one Tbsp in my smoothies.  Judy is it any amount of maca that gives you migraines?  I was just reading the post on the new Vega One product and it says it has no sugar and less maca... maybe something to check out.

As for protein... fruits and veggies have protein in them too, along with the nuts and seeds that were suggested.  If you're eating mostly whole foods you should be fine, there's lots of research out there - check out where raw foodies get their protein from.

Cheers!  Stay healthy everyone. 

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