Most of us would admit to feeling ‘stressed’ at this time of year. The search for the perfect present, or any present and the crowds and queues in the shops. The endless to do lists and the pressures of winding up work for Christmas along with negotiations with family about when and where to get together this Christmas. Feeling stressed? Add to that the Christmas parties, late nights and the excesses of alcohol and food and you have a recipe for getting sick.

Our bodies are designed to adapt and deal with stress, it will put aside basic functions in favour of getting your body to respond and deal with the stressful situation. The problem is when ‘stress’ becomes our default mode, when the alarm going off in the morning, the traffic on the way to work puts us into ‘fight or flight’ mode.

When the adrenal glands produce adrenaline to help us through our ‘stressful’ time it also releases cortisol to counteract the damaging effects of adrenalin. It’s a perfectly tuned machine that worked well until our modern lifestyles got in the way. One of the roles of cortisol is to prevent inflammation. Inflammation is that important, acute process of the immune system that deals with invaders like bacteria and viruses. So stress = diminished first line response to invaders. The immune system is suppressed and viruses and bacteria linger. You end up faced with a cold that haunts you for weeks, an illness that you just can’t shake.

Diminishing that stress response is the key to fighting illness. Nourish your body with nutrient dense foods, get plenty of rest, sleep deeply and do things you enjoy – daily. You may not be able to quit your job and go and live on a dessert island but you can control the way you react to everyday ‘stressful’ situations. If you can’t change your thought process, you can fake it till you make it with a range of ‘calming’ supplements including L-theanine and 5HTP.

If you are waking during the night or not sleeping deeply then look at ways to support that with 5THP or Neuralactin. Poor sleep raises cortisol levels significantly. The number one small change you can make to your diet to support adrenal health is to balance your blood sugar levels. Dips in blood sugar cause adrenal surges, counteract it with regular nutrient dense foods and less starchy and sugary foods. Download our free guide to balancing blood sugar below.

Nourish your immune system with our mini programme.

Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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