Stress is powerful
It affects everyone in one way or another. In fact, I’d say that for many of us, stress has become a constant companion – a bit like background noise that we can’t always hear but somehow feel the effects in ways that we don’t always notice. It affects our digestion, our sleep, our skin, of course our emotional health… plus so much more. Of course, with the advent of selfcare, we’ve become aware of ways of managing our stress, whether we look to the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy or meditation and mindfulness practices like journaling. There’s something for everyone – the key is being aware of your stress, particularly important this Stress Awareness Week.
We’re always looking for more expert knowledge, so here’s what our experts have to say….
On Stress Impact and Gut Health from Registered Nutritionist Evie Whitehead
When we feel stressed our sympathetic nervous system kicks in triggering a fight or flight response which diverts energy and blood flow away from the gut to major organs to increase breathing and heart rate to allow you to escape the perceived threat. This stress response also influences gut motility speeding it up leading to diarrhoea, or it can do the opposite, slowing the gut down almost entirely, leading to bloating, gas, constipation. In IBS sufferers, these symptoms can be related to dietary choices further exacerbating a sensitive gut.
Whilst we can’t always avoid stress, we can support our gut health by eating a Mediterranean style diet. In a landmark study using this kind of diet as an intervention in depressed patients, it was a great success and resulted in remission (1). Food can be a powerful tool that we can all use to improve our gut health and mood.
Including a Mediterranean style diet full of brightly coloured vegetables such as bell peppers, green leaves, squash, tomatoes, fruit and eating wholegrains, beans, oily fish, nuts and seeds has been proven effective at improving mood.
This is because the diversity of polyphenols, fibre and nutrients are abundant in these foods supporting the diversity and balance of your gut microbiome reducing inflammation and can profoundly influence mood, making us feel brighter, happier, and more energised. It appears, that if you eat the rainbow, you really can eat yourself happier.
Evie Whitehead, Registered Nutritional Therapist Practitioner
DipION, mBANT, CNHC
Bayes et al., 2022 The effect of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young males (the “AMMEND: A Mediterranean Diet in MEN with Depression” study): a randomized controlled trial
What Ingredients Help With Stress from Earths Secret
Here four (4) supplements that could help reduce stress so you can start your journey to a healthier and more relaxed one from Earths Secret.
Ashwagandha (winter cherry or Indian ginseng) is an adaptogen in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known for its potential to improve the body’s response to stress by lowering cortisol levels to help you feel calmer and more focused. In addition, ashwagandha has been shown to inhibit the development of a number of diseases and disorders that could potentially be fatal.
In an eight-week, prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, 58 people with stress and anxiety were given an aqueous root extract of ashwagandha to see how it worked. The results showed that the Ashwagandha root extract treatment was much more effective than the placebo.
Did you know? KSM-66 Ashwagandha is known as the world’s leading adaptogen. This award-winning herb that has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including reduced stress and fatigue, enhanced mood and cognition, and decreased inflammation.
- Holy Basil
Holy basil, also known as “Tulsi,” is an Ayurvedic plant that functions as an adaptogen by nourishing the body, mind, and soul and promoting calm and well-being. Popularly known as t “Elixir of Life” in the Ayurveda system, it possesses powerful curative properties that effectively treat a wide variety of common health ailments. According to some, holy basil has a soothing effect similar to yoga, promoting mental clarity and a calmer and more relaxed demeanour.
Researchers have conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on holy basil’s efficacy in managing general stress. It was found that the herbal supplement was well-tolerated by the participants and concluded that it can alleviate stress symptoms up to 1.6 times or 39% compared to the placebo group.
Green tea contains a particular type of amino acid called L-theanine. They can also be found in some mushrooms. L-theanine is known for its potential to promote a feeling of relaxation.
L-theanine supplementation was demonstrated to have positive effects in decreasing stress-related symptoms and cognitive enhancement in healthy people. This is based on a trial that was conducted for four weeks.
- Rhodiola Rosea
According to a study published in the Current Pharmacology Reports, the Rhodiola Rosea plant, also known as the golden root and arctic root, is used as a treatment for stress. It can be found growing in the mountainous areas of Europe and Asia, as well as in the Arctic.
A study revealed that participants suffering from stress-related fatigue had improved mental performance and reduced cortisol levels or stress after a repeated treatment using Rhodiola rosea supplement.
Stress Management and Supplements from Sara Palmer Hussey
Stress management is so, so important to health. Firstly stress significantly reduces immune resilience. While our ‘fight or flight’ switch is on, immune resilience is a low priority for the body, which is in emergency mode ready to react to a perceived danger. Low grade persistent stress, which many of us experience is a contributing factor to weight gain, hormonal imbalances and insomnia, as well as degenerative diseases over time.
Some stress is useful; it motivates us to act and achieve things that are important to us, so the key to avoiding the negative impact of stress is balance. My number one tip is to match stress with equal amounts of relaxation. If after identifying the causes of stress in your life, you are unable to reduce or marginalise their impact, look instead to scheduling time for activities that counterbalance stress, such as meditation, laughter, exercise, a long bath, yoga, breathing exercises, dance, catch-ups with friends and family, etc. The choice of activity is personal and must trigger the ‘rest and digest’ switch for you that will neutralise the impact of stress.
In terms of nutrition, it is a good idea to strengthen psychological function so that you can better control your reactions to things that ordinarily cause stress. Both MAGNESSENCE (our ultimate all-rounder) and LASER FOCUS (our specific brain health supplement) support robust psychological function, with vital nutrients including Magnesium, Zinc, Iodine, Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Biotin.
Your ability to manage stress is also affected by your general level of balance. This can be improved by supporting the body’s circadian rhythm. Stress disrupts the body’s ability to sleep soundly. Our sleep supplement DEEP SLEEP helps the body get into a restful, regenerative night mode that neutralises stress and allows the body to recuperate and repair overnight. Ingredients such as relaxing ashwagandha, serotonin/melatonin-boosting griffonia seed and sleep-inducing montmorency cherry help make DEEP SLEEP the perfect bedtime companion. DEEP SLEEP with its amino-acid rich formula also supports the body’s natural release of human growth hormone overnight that is essential to the regenerative process that can be eroded by stress.
Our supplement BODYBLISS helps offset the weight gain caused by stress and IMMUNE SHIELD can help offset the immunity-weakening effects of stress.
Stress and Nature from Hypnotherapist Malminder Gill
In many studies, nature has shown to improve stress and anxiety symptoms. Nature gives people the chance to slow down. You can soothe a stressed-out mind by taking in the beautiful surroundings. Ultimately nature can enable valuable reflection with restorative properties to allow you to make better decisions.
Studies have shown that two-thirds of people choose to retreat to a natural setting when they feel stressed. In another study, participants perform 50% better in creative problem solving after three days backpacking.
What’s important is that it does not matter how much time you spend outdoors. You can still feel the benefits of the beautiful natural surroundings for just a few minutes in nature. A study by Mind found that for 95% of people, their mood improved after spending time outside. As nature can help us from stressed and depressed to calm, centred and balanced, it is worth prioritising some time outdoors.