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Stress and Food Intake : Mussarat Shaheen


We all get stressed sometimes. Stress is a normal emotional response to the demands of life. We all experience stress. Stress can be good or bad. Good Stress can be planning a wedding, preparing for a baby, a promotion at work, or a graduation. Bad stress can be caused by losing a loved one, economic hardship, or having too many things to do. The source of the stress does not change the impact on your body and the food you may put on your plate.

Stress can be defined as maximum pressure level, where a person can’t solve his or her problems. In other words, he/she may feel ambiguity to solve his/her emotional problems.

If stress is prolonged then it affects the health badly i.e. depression, stress burnout and diabetes mellitus. 

But some stresses are really good for raising high motivational level.

Hormone Responsible Stress:

  • Cortisol: Cortisol responsible for stress is produced by adrenal glands. In survival mode cortisol can be life saving. It helps to maintain blood pressure and fluid balance. At high level, it increases blood pressure suppress the immune system and increases sugar level.
  • Adrenaline: Commonly it is also called flight or fight hormone. It works with the Norepinephrine when we are in dangerous situations. It helps us to focus attention.
  • Nor epinephrine: Its function is similar to adrenaline and mostly it works with the adrenaline. It is also responsible for stress.

How stress affects our food:

  • Food affects our mood. People who are living with the stress more likely want to eat more sugary or fatty food as compared to those who could manage the stress.
  • Most of the time people start forgetting or skipping their meals, while they have got stress Due to this, they may fail to maintain ideal weight and start losing it.
  • Stress triggers your emotional eating. During time of stress people crave for sugar and fat. 
  • Weight gain is caused by over eating. Higher level of cortisol has been linked to more deep abdominal fat.
  • One study on diabetics black women found that their blood sugar level was raised when they were asked to recall some stressful event from their past.

Food to avoid in stress:

If someone has stress, he must avoid this food just to manage it

  • Caffeine: Caffeine contributes in stress by boosting up the adrenaline level, in tea, coffee a large amount of stress present.
  • Alcohol: By using alcohol, sleep pattern is disturbed. Depression and fatigue level rises.
  • Saturated food: Highly saturated foods are difficult for digestions. They make us feel sluggish.

Food that Reduce Stress:

There are some foods that naturally reduce stress.

  • Vitamin B6: It’s a natural stress reducer. It is necessary for regulation of hormone GABA and a neurotransmitter serotonin, by which mood changes take place. Food that are highly rich with Vitamin B6 are bananas, rice wheat etc.
  • Vitamin B12: It is also involved in natural stress reduction and regulates the hormone GABA and nor epinephrine that helps to establish positive mood, scallops, shrimp, egg and yogurt are great source of vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals and helps body to protect from the cell damage. Strawberries, oranges, cauliflower are great sources of vitamin C.
  • Magnesium: It aids in the productions of GABA and Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates pleasure centre in brain. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, black beans, navy beans are highly rich in magnesium.
  • Complex carbohydrates and whole grains are also responsible for boosting the serotonin level. i.e pasta and brown bread.

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