From the journal

Mental Health Awareness: Stress & Nutrition

In acknowledgement of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek this latest KNOWLEDGE BITE from Jenna looks at how your daily life might be enhancing your stress and how you can use nutrition to combat it. 

Stress affects the majority of the UK population in some way or another; whether it be work stress, financial stress, relationship stress, home stress, family stress or emotional or physical stress it’s a word which is used in everyday conversation. Although, stress isn’t always a bad thing and often the stress response created by the body is what drives our ability to ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ during stressful situations. During stressful situations the brain inhibits any unnecessary pathways (e.g. digestion, food requirement and reproduction) and concentrates on releasing hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol), increases blood flow and oxygen to the working muscles in order to tackle the situation.

Following an acute stressor, the release of cortisol is inhibited and the brain switches back on our food requirements, digestion and reproduction mechanisms.

Historically this stress response was there to protect us from being attacked in the jungle or running from a wild animal. However, in today’s society many of us are triggering our stress response continuously over issues which happen at work and home and even rude people in the supermarket.

As a result of a chronic stress response we’re significantly increasing our risks of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and even addiction. Furthermore stress may increase the risk of gastrointestinal issues, micronutrient deficiencies, weight gain, headaches, weakened immune function, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

The management of stress is essential and understanding how our daily lives may be contributing to our stress levels is essential:

Too much coffee

    Coffee stimulates cortisol production, cortisol is the stress hormone. For individuals who are slow metabolisers of coffee it is recommended that they witch their caffeine hit from coffee to green tea as this contains a compound called L-theanine which promotes the release of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA exerts calming effects on the brain. Coffee may also impair sleep when consumed after 2pm. Therefore, for particularly stressed individuals I recommend consuming herbal teas rather than coffee in the afternoon and evening.

    Too much HIIT

      HIIT (high intensity interval training) has crept up a lot in the media recently as it has been found to stimulate weight loss. Whilst it may be beneficial in reducing weight it also promotes excess cortisol. For a less stressed individual this isn’t a major issue but for someone with already high cortisol levels this will heighten them further. A prolonged release of excess cortisol will promote abdominal fat storage. Ever wondered why you’re training hard but losing no weight? This might just be the answer. For particularly stressed individuals I recommend swapping your HIIT sessions for yoga, pilates or weight training.

      Too much sugar

        Consuming too much sugar may lead to increased insulin resistance and spiked cortisol levels. Consequently, this may lead to excess weight gain. Be aware that excess sugar consumption is likely to contribute to weight gain aside from stress levels.

        Too little sleep

          Chronic sleep disruption has been associated with an increased risk of stress and higher cortisol awakening levels. Research has suggested that even a few days of sleep deprivation can drive up appetite, caloric intake, blood glucose and insulin response and increase inflammation in young individual. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase oxidative stress and free radicals in the body.

          So what can you do to help reduce your perception of stress?

          Eat your oily fish

            Oily fish is rich in omega-3 which helps to reduce inflammation produced as a result of excess cortisol. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines are great sources. Avocados, nuts and seeds are vegan sources of healthy fats which contribute to a reduction of inflammation and improved brain health.

            Eat your greens (and a few squares of dark chocolate)

              Green leafy vegetables, beans pulses and dark chocolate are great sources of magnesium. Magnesium helps to promote muscle and nerve relaxation to help reduce the effects of stress.

              Eat your carbs

                Carbohydrates play a role in the synthesis of serotonin (the happy hormone), low carbohydrate food intake often lead to mood swings due to low levels of serotonin. Low mood can often impair our ability to deal with stressful situations or life stressors. Serotonin is also required to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) and may therefore help aid sleep.

                Ensure adequate calcium status

                  Research has shown that excess cortisol may reduce calcium absorption and promote urinary calcium excretion. Ensure you’re consuming a range of nuts seeds, green leafy vegetables and high quality dairy to top up lost calcium.

                  Eat your oranges

                    Cortisol and chronic stress reduces immune function. Ensure you’re consuming a range of fruits and vegetables (not just oranges) to promote optimum immunity.

                    It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing extreme chronic stress please seek more personalised advice.

                     

                    Vargas, I., & Lopez-Duran, N. (2014). Dissecting the impact of sleep and stress on the cortisol awakening response in young adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology40, 10-16.

                    McEwen, B. S., & Karatsoreos, I. N. (2015). Sleep deprivation and circadian disruption: stress, allostasis, and allostatic load. Sleep medicine clinics10(1), 1-10.

                    Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2013). Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva endocrinologica, 38(3), 255.

                    Nagvanshi, D., & Tiwari, A. (2015). IMPACT OF FOOD IN STRESS BEHAVIOUR. International Education and Research Journal, 1(4), 37-38.

                    Grases, G., Pérez-Castelló, J. A., Sanchis, P., Casero, A., Perelló, J., Isern, B., ... & Grases, F. (2006). Anxiety and stress among science students. Study of calcium and magnesium alterations. Magnesium research19(2), 102-106.

                    Read more

                    In acknowledgement of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek this latest KNOWLEDGE BITE from Jenna looks at how your daily life might be enhancing your stress and how you can use nutrition to combat it. 

                    Stress affects the majority of the UK population in some way or another; whether it be work stress, financial stress, relationship stress, home stress, family stress or emotional or physical stress it’s a word which is used in everyday conversation. Although, stress isn’t always a bad thing and often the stress response created by the body is what drives our ability to ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ during stressful situations. During stressful situations the brain inhibits any unnecessary pathways (e.g. digestion, food requirement and reproduction) and concentrates on releasing hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol), increases blood flow and oxygen to the working muscles in order to tackle the situation.

                    Following an acute stressor, the release of cortisol is inhibited and the brain switches back on our food requirements, digestion and reproduction mechanisms.

                    Historically this stress response was there to protect us from being attacked in the jungle or running from a wild animal. However, in today’s society many of us are triggering our stress response continuously over issues which happen at work and home and even rude people in the supermarket.

                    As a result of a chronic stress response we’re significantly increasing our risks of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and even addiction. Furthermore stress may increase the risk of gastrointestinal issues, micronutrient deficiencies, weight gain, headaches, weakened immune function, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

                    The management of stress is essential and understanding how our daily lives may be contributing to our stress levels is essential:

                    Too much coffee

                      Coffee stimulates cortisol production, cortisol is the stress hormone. For individuals who are slow metabolisers of coffee it is recommended that they witch their caffeine hit from coffee to green tea as this contains a compound called L-theanine which promotes the release of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA exerts calming effects on the brain. Coffee may also impair sleep when consumed after 2pm. Therefore, for particularly stressed individuals I recommend consuming herbal teas rather than coffee in the afternoon and evening.

                      Too much HIIT

                        HIIT (high intensity interval training) has crept up a lot in the media recently as it has been found to stimulate weight loss. Whilst it may be beneficial in reducing weight it also promotes excess cortisol. For a less stressed individual this isn’t a major issue but for someone with already high cortisol levels this will heighten them further. A prolonged release of excess cortisol will promote abdominal fat storage. Ever wondered why you’re training hard but losing no weight? This might just be the answer. For particularly stressed individuals I recommend swapping your HIIT sessions for yoga, pilates or weight training.

                        Too much sugar

                          Consuming too much sugar may lead to increased insulin resistance and spiked cortisol levels. Consequently, this may lead to excess weight gain. Be aware that excess sugar consumption is likely to contribute to weight gain aside from stress levels.

                          Too little sleep

                            Chronic sleep disruption has been associated with an increased risk of stress and higher cortisol awakening levels. Research has suggested that even a few days of sleep deprivation can drive up appetite, caloric intake, blood glucose and insulin response and increase inflammation in young individual. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase oxidative stress and free radicals in the body.

                            So what can you do to help reduce your perception of stress?

                            Eat your oily fish

                              Oily fish is rich in omega-3 which helps to reduce inflammation produced as a result of excess cortisol. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines are great sources. Avocados, nuts and seeds are vegan sources of healthy fats which contribute to a reduction of inflammation and improved brain health.

                              Eat your greens (and a few squares of dark chocolate)

                                Green leafy vegetables, beans pulses and dark chocolate are great sources of magnesium. Magnesium helps to promote muscle and nerve relaxation to help reduce the effects of stress.

                                Eat your carbs

                                  Carbohydrates play a role in the synthesis of serotonin (the happy hormone), low carbohydrate food intake often lead to mood swings due to low levels of serotonin. Low mood can often impair our ability to deal with stressful situations or life stressors. Serotonin is also required to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) and may therefore help aid sleep.

                                  Ensure adequate calcium status

                                    Research has shown that excess cortisol may reduce calcium absorption and promote urinary calcium excretion. Ensure you’re consuming a range of nuts seeds, green leafy vegetables and high quality dairy to top up lost calcium.

                                    Eat your oranges

                                      Cortisol and chronic stress reduces immune function. Ensure you’re consuming a range of fruits and vegetables (not just oranges) to promote optimum immunity.

                                      It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing extreme chronic stress please seek more personalised advice.

                                       

                                      Vargas, I., & Lopez-Duran, N. (2014). Dissecting the impact of sleep and stress on the cortisol awakening response in young adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology40, 10-16.

                                      McEwen, B. S., & Karatsoreos, I. N. (2015). Sleep deprivation and circadian disruption: stress, allostasis, and allostatic load. Sleep medicine clinics10(1), 1-10.

                                      Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2013). Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva endocrinologica, 38(3), 255.

                                      Nagvanshi, D., & Tiwari, A. (2015). IMPACT OF FOOD IN STRESS BEHAVIOUR. International Education and Research Journal, 1(4), 37-38.

                                      Grases, G., Pérez-Castelló, J. A., Sanchis, P., Casero, A., Perelló, J., Isern, B., ... & Grases, F. (2006). Anxiety and stress among science students. Study of calcium and magnesium alterations. Magnesium research19(2), 102-106.

                                      Read more


                                      Vegan Recipe: Energy Bars

                                      We all get a little peckish at times throughout the day so we thought we'd share a recipe for a little afternoon pick-me up to keep your energy levels up as they dip before the end of the working day. These yummy morsels are vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free to boot; what's not to like!

                                       

                                      Ingredients

                                      200g pecans

                                      150g dried apricots

                                      150g dates

                                      1/2tsp cinnamon

                                      1/2 tsp vanilla

                                      25g tahini

                                      40g buckwheat flour (or alternative should you prefer)

                                       

                                      Method

                                      1. Blitz the pecan nuts in a food processor
                                      2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse in the food processor until well combined
                                      3. Once a dough-like texture forms, remove and flatten into a square mould
                                      4. Chill and cut in to 9 pieces
                                      5. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea (lemon and ginger seems to be the TTC favourite at the moment - yum!)

                                       

                                      Can't cook, won't cook? The Transformation Chef has you covered and these delicious bars are available to buy on our snacks page:

                                       

                                      Read more

                                      We all get a little peckish at times throughout the day so we thought we'd share a recipe for a little afternoon pick-me up to keep your energy levels up as they dip before the end of the working day. These yummy morsels are vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free to boot; what's not to like!

                                       

                                      Ingredients

                                      200g pecans

                                      150g dried apricots

                                      150g dates

                                      1/2tsp cinnamon

                                      1/2 tsp vanilla

                                      25g tahini

                                      40g buckwheat flour (or alternative should you prefer)

                                       

                                      Method

                                      1. Blitz the pecan nuts in a food processor
                                      2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse in the food processor until well combined
                                      3. Once a dough-like texture forms, remove and flatten into a square mould
                                      4. Chill and cut in to 9 pieces
                                      5. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea (lemon and ginger seems to be the TTC favourite at the moment - yum!)

                                       

                                      Can't cook, won't cook? The Transformation Chef has you covered and these delicious bars are available to buy on our snacks page:

                                       

                                      Read more


                                      Eat your way to glowing skin

                                      For years we’ve spent money and time on searching out the latest beauty products to ensure we have naturally glowing skin. These products can be extremely useful however you’re going to get much more for your money if you’re also looking after your skin from the inside. Nutrient deficiencies can significantly impair the structure and function of the skin.

                                      Whilst glowing skin is more about adding foods into the diet than taking foods away, there are two major culprits in spotty, blotchy and dull looking skin. These are of course caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is a natural laxative meaning it dehydrates the skin. Dehydrated skin can often be left looking dull, red and may promote collagen loss which can induce wrinkles. If the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your coffee then ensure you’re drinking a glass of water for every mug of coffee as this can help to prevent dehydration. You should also be aware that alcohol when consumed in excess can have similar effects on your natural glow.  Excessive sugar consumption causes a rise in insulin production which stimulates inflammation and the breakdown of collagen once again leading to a risk of wrinkles.

                                      Evidently coffee, sugar and alcohol aren’t going to do you any favours so you’re probably wondering what nutrients you can add into your diet to ensure optimal glowing skin.

                                       

                                      Omega-3

                                      Omega-3 play an important role in reducing systemic inflammation and it helps to counteract some of the effects of the high intakes of omega-6 which are found in the western diet. An unbalanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 can contribute to rosacea, acne and psoriasis and therefore Omega-3 helps to reduce the inflammation found in these disorders through the inhibition of arachidonic acid. Foods naturally high in omega-3 include: oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring etc.), chia seeds and flax seeds.

                                       

                                      Monounsaturated fatty acids

                                      Monounsaturated fats have been associated with a reduction in early ageing. Raw olive oil was found particularly beneficial in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation consequently delaying photoageing. Foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids include: almonds, avocados and olives/ olive oil.

                                       

                                      Vitamins A and C

                                      These nutrients are potent antioxidants which protects the skin cells against free radical damage including cell death. Vitamin C is also important in the structural regulation of collagen production. Foods rich in vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, liver, eggs, carrots and butter. Fruits and vegetables are particularly high in vitamin C.

                                       

                                      Vitamin B7

                                      Vitamin B7 (also referred to as biotin) is important for fat production which helps protect the cells against cell damage and water loss. When an individual is low in biotin the skin cells are often the first to suffer as a result. Food rich in biotin include: eggs, almonds, cheese, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spinach.

                                       

                                      Zinc

                                      Zinc is a key component in protecting the skin from UV absorption. In addition, Zinc is also an antioxidant which protects the skin from free radical damage.

                                      Foods rich in zinc include: oysters, red meat, nuts, beans and dark chocolate.

                                       

                                      Latreille, J., Kesse-Guyot, E., Malvy, D., Andreeva, V., Galan, P., Tschachler, E., … & Ezzedine, K. (2012). Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids intake and risk of skin photoaging. PLoS One7(9), e44490.

                                      Park, K. (2015). Role of micronutrients in skin health and function. Biomolecules & therapeutics23(3), 207.

                                      McCusker, M. M., & Grant-Kels, J. M. (2010). Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.Clinics in Dermatology, 28(4), 440-451.

                                      Read more

                                      For years we’ve spent money and time on searching out the latest beauty products to ensure we have naturally glowing skin. These products can be extremely useful however you’re going to get much more for your money if you’re also looking after your skin from the inside. Nutrient deficiencies can significantly impair the structure and function of the skin.

                                      Whilst glowing skin is more about adding foods into the diet than taking foods away, there are two major culprits in spotty, blotchy and dull looking skin. These are of course caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is a natural laxative meaning it dehydrates the skin. Dehydrated skin can often be left looking dull, red and may promote collagen loss which can induce wrinkles. If the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your coffee then ensure you’re drinking a glass of water for every mug of coffee as this can help to prevent dehydration. You should also be aware that alcohol when consumed in excess can have similar effects on your natural glow.  Excessive sugar consumption causes a rise in insulin production which stimulates inflammation and the breakdown of collagen once again leading to a risk of wrinkles.

                                      Evidently coffee, sugar and alcohol aren’t going to do you any favours so you’re probably wondering what nutrients you can add into your diet to ensure optimal glowing skin.

                                       

                                      Omega-3

                                      Omega-3 play an important role in reducing systemic inflammation and it helps to counteract some of the effects of the high intakes of omega-6 which are found in the western diet. An unbalanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 can contribute to rosacea, acne and psoriasis and therefore Omega-3 helps to reduce the inflammation found in these disorders through the inhibition of arachidonic acid. Foods naturally high in omega-3 include: oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring etc.), chia seeds and flax seeds.

                                       

                                      Monounsaturated fatty acids

                                      Monounsaturated fats have been associated with a reduction in early ageing. Raw olive oil was found particularly beneficial in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation consequently delaying photoageing. Foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids include: almonds, avocados and olives/ olive oil.

                                       

                                      Vitamins A and C

                                      These nutrients are potent antioxidants which protects the skin cells against free radical damage including cell death. Vitamin C is also important in the structural regulation of collagen production. Foods rich in vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, liver, eggs, carrots and butter. Fruits and vegetables are particularly high in vitamin C.

                                       

                                      Vitamin B7

                                      Vitamin B7 (also referred to as biotin) is important for fat production which helps protect the cells against cell damage and water loss. When an individual is low in biotin the skin cells are often the first to suffer as a result. Food rich in biotin include: eggs, almonds, cheese, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spinach.

                                       

                                      Zinc

                                      Zinc is a key component in protecting the skin from UV absorption. In addition, Zinc is also an antioxidant which protects the skin from free radical damage.

                                      Foods rich in zinc include: oysters, red meat, nuts, beans and dark chocolate.

                                       

                                      Latreille, J., Kesse-Guyot, E., Malvy, D., Andreeva, V., Galan, P., Tschachler, E., … & Ezzedine, K. (2012). Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids intake and risk of skin photoaging. PLoS One7(9), e44490.

                                      Park, K. (2015). Role of micronutrients in skin health and function. Biomolecules & therapeutics23(3), 207.

                                      McCusker, M. M., & Grant-Kels, J. M. (2010). Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.Clinics in Dermatology, 28(4), 440-451.

                                      Read more