You slept through your alarm.
You couldn’t find your keys.
You missed breakfast.
And hit every red light to work!
Stressed yet? The worst part is that your day has just begun
What a lot of people don’t realize is that stress is a “silent killer” – a huge contributing factor to obesity. Obesity is quickly moving its way up the charts as one of the major leading causes of death in America.
So let’s ask ourselves, what are some ways in which we can mitigate stress? All the while ensuring we stay on the right path to reach our fitness and nutritional goals as well as elevating our mood throughout the day?
Let’s take a look at one thing stress does to our body:
When we are stressed out our body releases a hormone called cortisol. So, what is cortisol? Cortisol is a chemical hormone produced by our body to manage stress. There are some benefits to cortisol (such as when you need a “flight or fight” response), however, a constant rush of cortisol in the blood stream over a significant period of time (chronic stress) could cause a serious negative response to our body. Some of these responses include high blood pressure, a decrease in muscle tissue, and a change in digestive process which can lead to obesity.
Solution: Elevating your Serotonin Levels Through Tryptophan
What we eat, how much we eat and when we eat plays a huge roll on how our brain produces serotonin. So what is serotonin? Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, found mainly in the central nervous system, that helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, learning and memory. The driving force behind this process is an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is found mostly in turkey, fish, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and dairy products. (Now I’m not saying it’s time to go on an all-meat diet plan to feel good and have less stress throughout the day!)
The only way tryptophan is absorbed into the brain is if the blood stream is carrying relatively high levels of tryptophan and low levels of other amino acids. Interestingly, a good way to boost the relative levels of tryptophan in the blood stream, and thus the brain, is to eat carbohydrates. When you spike your insulin (caused by eating carbs), it acts like a springboard for tryptophan and launches it straight to the brain. When the opposite happens, and if your tryptophan levels decrease and your serotonin levels stay low, well then your bad day just got worse.
Understanding what you eat and what it does to your body will help you meet your fitness and nutritional goals, and more importantly, it will allow you to choose the path you want to walk and the mindset you want to keep.