Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t need to overtake your life. There are steps you can take to bring it under control, and live a happier, more productive and fulfilling life. Nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, LDN, FACSM, author of The Secret of Vigor, says it’s all about restoring your balance. Many people complain about feeling depressed and unfocused, or having difficulties getting motivated or losing weight. As a guest on Georgia’s A Better You, Talbott told listeners that bringing your biochemistry back into balance may help you feel better and reach your goals.
Worrying about your money, family or job can cause a lot of stress. “I want people to understand that stress affects every single aspect of our bodies,” said Talbott. “It causes cellular problems. From a biochemical perspective, stress is the root of most of our modern problems.” Cortisol, the stress hormone, influences many of these changes. “Cortisol can interfere with glucose, and then you’re hungry all the time. Or serotonin, and then your mood is affected,” explained Talbott. “It’s sort of a dominos game of biochemistry, but the very first domino is that stress-induced cortisol.”
The solution is bringing your body into balance, so you can prevent that first tumble. “There are things that we can do from a nutritional perspective and from a lifestyle perspective that can bring you back into balance so you feel better, look better, perform better and you can manage weight,” said Talbott. “Everything falls back into place once you start rebalancing these aspects of your biochemistry.”
The first step is acknowledging the biochemical imbalance in your body. “For a lot of people, this is really empowering. Often they know that some aspect of their biochemistry is off, but they don’t know what it is,” said Talbott. “Nutrition is another very important piece.” Plan your diet to manage cortisol and glucose. “For example, eat meals which are evenly spaced throughout the day instead of skipping breakfast, grabbing a fast-food lunch and then having a big dinner. That sets your body out of balance,” he said. “It makes your blood sugar (glucose) levels fluctuate more than they should. This sets off a stress response in your body. So, even if the world around you is calm, at the biochemical level in your cells, you are setting off a stress response.”
A better option is to eat a diet which helps alleviate stress, and keeps you in balance throughout the day. “When this happens people end up having a lot more energy. They have better mental focus and are in better mood,” said Talbott. ”That’s exactly what we want them to experience.”