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Health May 2012

Eat Right Now

Food and Stress

By Wendell Fowler

Stress is caused by adjustment to a changing environment, ageism, bullies, lost independence and control over your life, fear of something dangerous, loss of strength and coordination, a lost sense of purpose, productivity, declining cognition, or eulogizing friends or relatives over a casket.

We live in fretful, complicated times. When stress rears its beastly head, we're tempted to soothe our anxious nerves with a bowl of ice cream, a bag of fries, or by gulping down two venti mocha crappucinos in a row to hack it.

Zigzagging towards the fourth turn on the race track called life, there are countless factors that place the kibosh on your health. Stress kills by chipping away at the foundation of our mind- body health. Certain foods and beverages actually add extra stress to our temple, which in response creates cortisol that makes you crave sweet and salty food.

Stress is caused by adjustment to a changing environment, ageism, bullies, lost independence and control over your life, fear of something dangerous, loss of strength and coordination, a lost sense of purpose, productivity, declining cognition, or eulogizing friends or relatives over a casket. The knee-jerk response from doctors is prescribing liver-damaging, addictive sedatives or anti-depressants rather than treating the source. When you hear the ghastly side effect disclaimers on TV, drugs clearly carry risks. Identifying what's causing your stress is the first coherent step in learning to deal with it better.

Comfort foods intensify physical stress. Chugging three cups of coffee or diet cola raises adrenaline which intensifies stress. Too much sugar causes tetchy moods, tiredness, and depression. Chocolate in moderation, on the other gooey hand, increases secretion of endorphins -- the happy, feel-good neurotransmitters. One serving, friend, not a sugar orgy.

Audrey Barron, Living Foods educator reminds us sugar and caffeine unbalance hormones, disrupt sleep patterns, and create fatigue. She urges avoiding butter, cheese, red meats, alcohol, chocolate drinks and coffee. She adds, "Eating cooked meats, breads, gluten-laden foods, or processed foods create gas, bloating, brain fogginess, fatigue, and clog the digestive system. When these symptoms arise, you're stressed! When you're not functioning on all 6 cylinders you can't effectively perform daily tasks which in turn escalates mental strain. When you're feeling well, your stress levels plummet."

Sufficient intake of water is essential. Seniors are often dehydrated but don't feel thirsty, while other times it's too challenging or painful to pour. Do your best to drink at least 1 ounce of filtered water – not canned beverages, milk, or coffee -- for every 2.2 pounds of weight. At our age, protein is essential since it promotes hardy immune response and prevents muscle wasting. We should consume high quality protein such as local eggs, lean grass-fed meats, poultry, and wild caught salmon. Fibrous complex carbs are a marvelous source of protein too. They're in whole grain breads, Ezekiel bread, granola, Barilla Plus pasta, Kashi Go Lean cereal, non-hydrogenated peanut or almond butter, quinoa and brown rice. Fats and oils should be limited, not eliminated; choose olive, raw virgin coconut, fish, or walnut oils, and foods that don't need frying.

Be compassionate with yourself. Although the old gray mare ain't what she used to be, proper care and the right variety of vitamins will help pensioners enjoy a healthy, long life. Supplement with vitamins A, B-complex, rose hips vitamin C, E, and pantothenic acid – all considered stress vitamins.

Exorcize tension from your temple; inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through the throat with five slow, rhythmic breaths to relax your heart. Then relax each muscle, roll your neck from side to side, stand or sit up straight. Step back from what's stressing you; a few seconds can offer calming clarity and perspective. Laugh because nothing relieves tension in your body or mind like a little humor. Sex is also good at reducing stress.

Even in later life, adopting a healthier diet, kicking stress in the behind, and building activities into your schedule helps your body and mind bounce back from the effects of life's relentless left and right hooks. You deserve the best.

 

Chef Wendell hosts Eat Right Now on WISH TV 8 CBS Indianapolis. He can be reached at 317-372-2592 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Visit his website at Chefwendell.com.

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