I don’t know about you but I could always use a little more time to unwind and let my troubles melt away. In today’s constant fast paced and high stress lifestyle it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. There are days when we question how we ever managed to make it through them and yet we always seem to come out just fine. Or at least we think we are. The thing about stress is that like most things in life you need to have a balance of it. While a little stress from time to time can actually make you healthier, too much stress can destroy your health in a number of ways. One of the biggest health issues we are currently facing is due to an excess of stress!
What Is Really Going On
Stress is actually part of our bodies natural defense. In situations where our lives are in danger the brain will activate the release of Cortisol. Cortisol is one of the hormones that is released in response to stress. While Cortisol is mainly known for its involvement in the body’s response to stress it also serves other purposes. Cortisol assists in the regulation of blood sugar levels, balancing metabolism, reducing inflammation, and even in the formation of memories. Its natural effects on water and salt balance, make it ideal for aiding in the regulation of blood pressure. In women, Cortisol also plays a key role in the development of the fetus during pregnancy. When our levels become out of balance it can present itself in a number of ways.
How To Identify The Warning Signs
Some of the signs and symptoms that can indicate excess levels of Cortisol are: feeling overly alert yet exhausted, difficulty falling and or staying asleep, feeling anxious or nervousness, easily irritated, memory lapse, easily distracted, craving sugar, weight gain (especially around the waist), indigestion, GERD and other digestive issues, as well as skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis. The unfortunate reality is that we all display at least one, if not multiple, of these signs and symptoms. Due to our constant exposure to stress from looming deadlines, money woes, and even the foods we eat. We are in a near constant exposure to stressful situations. That’s why I like to approach this constant health hurdle in a number of ways: hormones, nutrition, supplements, mindset, sleep, and of course exercise.
5 Herbs To Put You At Ease
When it comes to stress we can use all the help we can get. One of my favorite ways to keep things as natural as possible is with nutrition. Some of the most nutrient dense foods are not always what first come to mind when we think about foods. Herbs and spices are some of the most nutrient dense foods that can easily be added into any of our favorite dishes. The following is a list of my top five favorite herbs to help reduce your stress with ease:
- Lemon Balm
- Kava Root
Looking for a way to lower your stress levels? A 2004 study found that taking lemon balm eased the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm self-reported an increased sense of calmness and reduced feelings of alertness. Research published in 2014 examined the mood and cognitive effects of foods containing lemon balm. The supplement was mixed into a beverage and into yogurt along with either natural or artificial sweeteners. Participants in both groups reported positive effects on various aspects of mood, including reduced levels of anxiety. Suggested dosage is 300-600 mg per day. Lemon balm is known to inhibit thyroid function which can make it helpful for someone with an overactive thyroid gland, yet less than ideal for someone with an under-active thyroid. Please check with your primary care physician prior to use.
Studies have shown that peppermint may help modulate activities in the central and peripheral nervous system. It’s natural cooling effects on the stomach muscles also aid in better digestion which houses the majority of Serotonin production. The Menthol in peppermint provides relief from coughs and flu. Making peppermint a common go to for pain relief during cold and flu seasons. Drinking peppermint tea can also help reduce tooth aches and decrease inflammation while treating bad breath and yellow teeth. It’s natural anti-inflammatory benefits make it great for more than just stress relief. Peppermint can also help regulate calcium ion channels which aid the body in the elimination process. This means that it can help slow things down and speed them up when needed.
There is a reason we have already talked a little bit about the health benefits that come from consuming garlic. Some of the benefits that come with this powerful herb are improved Iron metabolism and a good source of selenium. Selenium can aid in the regulation of the number of fat cells that are formed in the body. Garlic is also great for your heart health and can help lower blood triglycerides, blood sugar, and total cholesterol. It can protect against oxidative stress and support blood pressure. Garlic is also a great source for the following: vitamin C, B6, and manganese. It is both an antibacterial and antiviral. Garlic is also known to thin the blood so make sure that you touch base with your primary doctor prior to increasing your amounts.
One of its main components is chamomile. Known for its natural soothing effects on the nervous system making it a clear go to for stress reduction. Chamomile tea can help reduce stress and anxiety due to its gentle warming and soothing nature. It was traditionally used to treat colic in children and gas relief. The terpenes and glucosides in chamomile are antimicrobial and inhibit internal and external inflammation. Chamomile contains flavonoid apigenin, which induces sleepiness and also has antispasmodic activity, which helps relieve gastrointestinal discomfort. It also contains diaphoretic properties which can detoxify your body by inducing perspiration. Chamomile also works as an analgesic which makes it beneficial for pain relief, this tea is often used to soothe teething babies.
Kava kava (“kava” for short) contains substances called kavapyrones. They act much like alcohol on your brain, making you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. The plant is also thought to relieve pain, prevent seizures, and relax muscles. Doctors aren’t sure how much kava you can take safely. If your doctor gives you the okay, use the smallest possible dose. Don’t take it for longer than 3 months, and avoid drinking alcohol while you’re using it. Because this root can produce similar symptoms that you would find from drinking alcohol you will want to make sure you treat it the same way. This means: no driving, or operating heavy machinery, don’t combine with alcohol and it can produce similar health issues as alcohol so take care of your liver. Out of all the options I would suggest this one dead last due to all of the unknowns that go with it.
Quinoa & Black Beans
Gluten Free Vegan Serves 8
- 1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 ¼ Cups Vegetable Broth
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
- ½ tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded & Diced
- 8 Medium Green Onions Chopped
- ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped
- 1 Cup Frozen Corn Kernels Thawed
- 2 (15 ounce) Cans Black Beans Drained
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan and stir in the quinoa. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer, cook for 20-30 minutes or until quinoa is tender. In a large bowl whisk together oil, juice, vinegar, and cumin. Add in onions, pepper, cilantro, corn, and beans toss to coat. Next, transfer the cooked quinoa into the bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Need A Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!