Stress is a natural part of life and is all around us. We live in a world where the demands and responsibilities of day to day life can make us feel enough pressure to be anxious. Chronic stress, however, does you and your body no favors. It can cause high blood pressure, drain your energy, cause weight gain, acne, sleeping problems, sexual dysfunction, as well as chronic depression. It doesn’t stop there either, unfortunately the list goes on and on…
When we are stressed, our body produces the stress hormone cortisol along with adrenalin and insulin from our adrenal glands. This hormone isn’t necessarily bad, but there is fine line when it becomes more damaging than lifesaving. It’s designed to give our body a boost of energy for exactly 18 minutes. It is well known as the “flight or fight” response and gave our ancestors the ability to hunt for survival.
The cortisol acts to maintain high levels of both blood pressure and blood sugar while the adrenalin curbs the various immune functions so to allow more blood to get to the muscles and more oxygen to the lungs as quickly as possible. Insulin will flood the body with glucose to give our muscles an immediate energy source so we can react quickly when in danger.
Cortisol is an important hormone that in small doses does a wonderful job of matching physiological demands with energy regulation. However, after 18 minutes it becomes more harmful than good. It is a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator, but not if you’re fretting over how to pay bills. For many, stress on the body doesn’t come from action packed adrenalin moments, so cortisol is often misused, providing an unnecessary over reaction and strain on the body.
There are some people who biologically experience more stress than others and for many, conventional medicines often have little influence or result in numerous unwanted side effects. The only way to combat chronic stress permanently is through physiological stress management and by optimizing the diet.
What releases cortisol? Although stress from daily life is the biggest contributor, knowing that there are other things that can also cause stress or aggravate someone who is already suffering from stress even further is important when trying to combat it. These include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive exercise
- Soft drinks (including diet)
- Low blood sugar levels/ dehydration
- Fast releasing sugars i.e. White bread, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals etc.
A diet that consists of large amounts of alcohol, processed foods, and fast releasing sugars are well known contributing factors and play a big role in stimulating the release of cortisol in the body. If the body is already stressed, these contributors will only heighten the stress response in the body.
Best Juicing Nutrients for Fighting Stress and Anxiety
When our bodies are stressed, a lack of nutrients and an unhealthy lifestyle will only aggravate the body further. By filling yourself instead with nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, your body can heal from the damage stress can cause as well as help fight it. When juicing for stress, there are certain nutrients present in certain fruits and vegetables that will help you better overcome the side effects of stress. These nutrients include:
Magnesium is a mineral and is vital for nerve and muscle functions. High amounts of Magnesium can be found in all green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, sweetcorn, carrots, tomatoes and onions. Studies have shown that this mineral can suppress the responsiveness of the adrenal glands and the release of cortisol. Furthermore, magnesium acts as a barrier, preventing cortisol from entering the brain.
Thanks to years of research, we have discovered that magnesium plays a big role in our mental and emotional conditions. When we are stressed, our body immediately uses up our magnesium stores at a rapid pace, leading us to suffer from a magnesium deficiency. A high deficiency in this mineral causes the body to block the release of serotonin, causing the mind to act irrational, while depression and anger becomes more predominant and could even eventually leading to unexplained suicidal tendencies. Even mild deficiencies in magnesium can cause an individual to suffer from panic attacks, insomnia, twitching, confusion and nervousness.
B vitamins all have separate functions in the body and all play an important role in stress management, anxiety and depression. High amounts of B vitamins can be found in green leafy vegetables, most fruits, carrots, pumpkins, squashes, and cauliflower . Vitamin B1, and B6 are vital for managing cortisol levels, while vitamin B5 and B12 regulates energy levels and blood cell development. A deficiency in these vital vitamins could cause additional strain on the body when stressed.
B vitamins all work together as a team and should be consumed together in order to be effective. Without the management of cortisol and energy levels in a stressful situation, your body will panic and recklessly overindulge in cortisol as an alternative to shutting down.
Vitamin C is a well-known vitamin for fighting off viral infections such as the cold and flu, however, its role in stress and depression is even greater. High amounts of vitamin C can be found in all citrus fruits, cantaloupe, watermelon, all red berries, squash and pumpkin, sweet peppers and cabbage. It is interesting to note that the benefits of vitamin C in the body are completely destroyed by cooking and exposure to light. Therefore, it is easy to see why juicing is a great way to get the utmost amount of benefits from this vitamin.
Vitamin C has been proven to be highly beneficial with both the physical and psychological effects of stress. People who consume about 1000ml a day of vitamin c, react mildly to stressful situations compared to those who were on a lower dose. Our cortisol levels are generally higher in the morning compared to the rest of the day, so drinking a juice high in vitamin C in the morning is an excellent way to suppress stress and set up a strong base for the rest of the day.
By paying particular attention to these nutrients, you can alter and adapt your juices to help combat stress. Furthermore, taking supplements such as zinc, copper and selenium will also help regulate cortisol levels and improve the body’s ability to deal with stress in the long run. Amino acids such as tyrosine and glutamine have also been proved effective.