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Welcome to the Thrival Nutrition Podcast with me as your host, Lahana Vigliano, owner of Thrival Nutrition + board certified clinical nutritionist. We’re on episode 145 talking about lessening your stress in the New Year. Stress is a heath issue often overlooked, but it’s JUST as important as eating healthy and exercising. I want you to leave stress behind this year. Well, as much as possible. I understand sometimes life throws us into crazy situations, scenarios, and things we can’t always control, BUT for the most part, stress from our every day hustle and problems are something that we CAN control.
Before we get started, I wanted to thank ya’ll from the bottom of my heart for waiting patiently for our multivitamin to come back in stock. Hopefully, that is the LAST time we will ever be out of stock and we’ll reorder on time. We’re still getting used to this whole supplement gig. But seriously, thank you for bearing with us + it’s NOW available on Amazon again! If you follow me around social media, you probably already know that, but for people that strictly follow me here on the podcast. IT’S HERE! Finally! Just in time for the New Year! Go into the show notes + order yourself a bottle over on Amazon to start your New Year nourished up!
This podcast is also a hint on what’s to come in the New Year with expanding our supplement line! We’re so excited about it + I’ll let you know more when we start the production process of product #2, but it’s going to be a good one to take if you find your stress levels hard to handle.
What does stress do to our body?
Let’s get a little science-y for a second for all my science nerds out there! I know for me that learning more about the body and what it’s doing helps me understand things better + motivate me to make this a priority! Stress comes in many different ways – emotionally, physically, mentally. It all triggers the basic same stress response. It puts our body into fight or flight and you’ll find that we never really get into rest + digest. Legit, our body thinks it’s running from a tiger 90% of the time. Eventually, this totally wears down on the body leaving us susceptible for health issues.
Why would our body focus on reproducing if it’s in fight or flight? How can the body fight off an illness if it’s run down? Why would it focus on digesting foods if you’re about to run?
You might be feeling extra adrenaline – which increases your heart rate, increases blood sugar due to the body getting ready to have you have access to fuel to “run” if needed, and stimulates that blood flow to areas like your muscles. These are all AMAZING effects for when you really need to “run” and legit fight or flight, BUT most of the time, our day to day stress doesn’t need extra blood sugar/fuel or our heart rate to increase.
The second hormone that is increased during stressful periods of time is cortisol. Cortisol does the same thing that adrenaline does with increasing blood sugar. Taking glycogen (which is stored blood sugar) from our muscles and turning that into readily available sugar/fuel to again…”run”.
When we’re chronically stressed, these levels are high ALL THE TIME. This increases cardiovascular disease, cancer, common colds and flus, adrenal issues, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, diabetes, you name it! Stress is the ultimate factor that can make or break your body.
Gut + Stress
I want to dive into the the gut + stress connection really quick because if you’re not new around here, you guys know I’m CONSTANTLY talking about gut health. It’s the foundation to every other organ and system in the body because this is one of the first place where we interact with the outside environment. If our gut doesn’t work, we aren’t able to break down the foods and nutrients we need and aren’t able to absorb them leaving a devastating domino effect with everything else.
When we are in high stress, this slows down the digestive system in the motility, how it digests, the “gates” in the gut barrier being opened leading to permeability, and how our microbiome is. High stress leads to our immune system (which is mostly in our gut) to be downregulated, which helps bad bacteria and yeast to thrive and overgrow leading to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis and gut health is ALSO linked to anxiety and depression, so if you’re struggling with those that can lead you down a rabbit hole rather quickly.
Stress + Thyroid
Another delicate balance that needs to be considered is your adrenals (which produces the cortisol) and your thyroid. I see thyroid issues popping all over the place and women suffering from them, which is TERRIBLE. When we’re in this fight or flight, high cortisol producing mode, our body tells our thyroid – “Hey! Slow your roll for a second!” This is why whenever you hear someone tell you that stress is the reason for your weight gain or stubborn weight loss – your thyroid is a major player in your metabolism. Remember, your body shifts to a state where it’s saving all the energy it needs in order to “run” – it’s not going to sit there and say “this is the perfect time to shed pounds!”.
High stress also triggers hypothalamus + pituitary dysfunction, which these two parts of your brain are the key communicators to your thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. Stress also blocks the conversion between T4 (inactive thyroid hormone that the thyroid makes) to T3 (active thyroid hormone). This causes hypothyroid symptoms!
See, how stress plays a role in our metabolism, thyroid, and weight?
Stress + Blood Sugar
I want to hit this point again because I think this is something SO important that isn’t talked about with diabetes + insulin resistance. So, we now know that stress releases stored glycogen to increase our blood sugar. This ALSO increases the pancreas to release more insulin. If you’re chronically stressed, you’re constantly going to have higher blood sugars + higher insulin levels. Higher insulin levels increase your overall body inflammation too! Our cells can slowly become insulin resistant leading to a more chronic issue called diabetes.
When many people are stressed, they also turn to not the healthiest foods. This can further compound the issue because we’re turning towards more carb heavy + sweetened foods versus the vegetable + proteins.
Now that we understand some really important factors about how stress can affect our health, let’s dive into what we can do.
Stress Relief Recommendations
There are obvious stress relief recommendations that I won’t really go over, but are just as important, like removing yourself from situations or people that cause you stress. Some relationships are just not worth it to have those negative health effects.
- Adaptogens. This is one of my favorite ways to keep cortisol levels + my stress levels good – create your body to be come adaptable to stress. My favorite herbs are ashwaganda, rhodiola, holy basil, gingseng, reishi, chaga, maca root, and astragalus. These herbs help our body adapts to stress + reduce the negative side effects that come from stress. I’m going to give ya’ll a big HINT HINT right here about product #2 coming into the Thrival Nutrition Supplement line!!! Keep an eye out because we’re formulating our own blend of adaptogens, so we can help you keep your stress levels ROCKING (in a good way!)!
- Meditation. Hands down one of the most popular recommendations to help with mental health and stress is meditation. Even if it’s a couple minutes a day morning or evening and working up your something longer – any little bit helps. Even a mid-day break after you eat lunch. A lot of people (myself included) use the excuse “I don’t have time”, honestly you don’t have time NOT to do it. In the Journal of Clinical Psychology, it showed that meditation could help people who struggle with anxiety + stress. It’s not going to be the end all be all solution, but for something free, easy, and you can do it whenever – why NOT do it?! If you’re a new beginner to meditation, start with using an app like Headspace or Insight Timer to use guided meditations.
- Bible Study. While I have people that follow me from all different religions, reconnecting with your roots + God can help you think about the much bigger picture in the world and it makes things that you might be stressing about seem so small. It’s a great perspective shift + personally, knowing that I only have so much control + there is a higher power out there guiding me and people I love to what we’re called to do keeps me at peace. Doing this consistently has been a GAME CHANGER for how I view and handle stress.
- Do Something Fun. Yes, I’m giving your permission to get out of your daily to-do list + stressors and get out in the world and do something you LOVE! How simple this sounds, but as humans we were never meant to just work, work, stress, and run around doing errands. We are meant to enjoy the time we have here on this Earth + connect with our loved ones. This can be just hanging out and talking at home or going out and doing an activity – hiking, boating, exercising, going out to eat, playing games (ya’ll we’re really just big kids!), you name it.
- Nature. In our society, we’re SO bombarded with electronics (and yes I’m guilty here!) and being indoors. I think we forget that our roots is that we’re meant to be out THERE. In the fresh air. In nature. In the water. With the trees. Ya’ll I know that sounds a little hippy, but it’s who we are. There was actually a study that was done by the Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine Journal that showed how “forest bathing” lowered cortisol in the participants of the study!
- Exercise. One of the stressors that you could be having is simply overexercising. Cut back if you’re overexercising and also be aware of when you are stressed, dial it back on exercise because you’re body doesn’t need that extra stressor during certain periods of intense stress! Aim to get your stress down first + resume to working out.
- Journaling. Oh man, I refused to do this for the longest time because I swore it wouldn’t have helped my stress, but it totally did! It was like venting to a friend and getting things off my mind and my heart and I felt so much better and less anxious after I journaled my thoughts and feelings. Plus, it’s a great way to organize what you’re thinking. When I’m organized, I’m just a less stressed person in general. I also love journaling things that I’m grateful for. Creating that gratitude list makes you focus on more of the positive things going on versus the things that aren’t going right that you’re fixating on.
- Take A Break From Caffeine. Since levels of cortisol are higher during stress, you don’t want to drink something that can make this problem worse. Take a break from caffeine, which is a natural stimulant to our body.
If you need help with getting this wheel turning and functioning, I would love to help you and talk with you about figuring out what will work for you, so you don’t have to go into the New Year being stressed out. Use the show notes to book a free call with me to go over how I can help you!