Did you know April is National Stress Awareness month? Stress is something we all experience on a daily basis and it affects each one of us differently. Simply put, stress is anything that causes strain on the body, regardless of its origin. How many times have you told a friend “I’m so stressed out” or “I’m under a lot of stress right now”? What would you most attribute this source of stress?
For most of us our lives are a non-stop dance from one task to another. Americans work more now than ever before. According to a study done by the International Labor Organization, 85.8% of males and 66.5% of females work more than 40 hours per week. When compared to other industrialized nations, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. What does that mean? We are not taking enough vacation days.
But work is just one stressor. Stress is also caused by the demands of social life, family obligations, environmental toxins and by poor food choices.
How Significant Is Our Diet as a Source of Stress?
In his book, The Thrive Diet, Brendan Brazier estimates that as much as 40% of overall stress can be classified as nutritional. Nutritional stress is simply defined as stress created by food because of its unhealthy properties. This definition is broad, encompassing most food many of us consider staples. The bottom line is that overconsumption of refined foods is stressing us out! Brendan says that, nutritional stress is an epidemic, our modern day plague.
“Improved diet is the number one way to reduce overall stress.” ~ Brendan Brazier
Why Reduce Nutritional Stress?
- Longer life expectancy
- Reduce weight and increase strength
- More energy
- Improved mental clarity
- Higher quality sleep
- Improved immune system
- Fewer cravings
How to Reduce Nutritional Stress?
- Eat more whole foods, preferable organic.
- Fill up on fruits, veggies, whole gains and high quality fats like nuts and avocados.
- Eliminate all refined sugars and refined grains.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol.
What is one dietary shift you can make to reduce your stress? Do it and post a comment letting me know how it goes.
Stress Busting Recipe
Spinach Pomegranate Salad
The sunflower seeds and spinach in this salad are great sources of magnesium, the avocado is loaded with vitamin B6 and pomegranate seeds are powerful antioxidants, all of which help to sooth frazzled nerves.
- 1 pomegranate or 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 bunches flat leaf spinach
- 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds (shell removed)
- 1 avocado
Halve pomegranate lengthwise and seed. Working in a bowl of cold water, use your hands to separate seeds from membrane. Scoop out pomegranate seeds and pat dry. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, mustard, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss spinach, sunflower seeds, and pomegranate seeds with dressing in bowl. Top with fresh cut avocado.