Last week we talked about how stress may be the cause of your indigestion. This week, we will look at how you eat and some specific foods that might increase your stress level!
It is not often that we talk about food and its impact on our emotional well-being.
A well-balanced diet supports both our physical and mental functions, allowing us to feel energized and ready for the world.
On the other hand, an inadequate diet is not only related to chronic diseases such as diabetes, but it can also make you feel worse. Here are a few ways that we now know how we eat triggers or worsens stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When Body Isn’t Ready for Food
From the first bite, chewing allows the enzymes in the saliva to start breaking down food. It also signals the digestive system to begin producing gastric acid and other digestive juices that different segments are ready when the food arrives.
When we eat in a hurry without or when the body is still in the “flight or fight” mode, food often enters the small intestine without being fully broken down. These undigested food particles may damage the intestinal lining, causing it to become permeable, also known as leaky gut.
The undigested food particles, toxins, and bugs may penetrate the intestinal lining, reaching tissues outside the digestive tract. Our body sees these foreign particles as invaders. This may trigger inflammation and other health issues. There is a huge body of on-going research looking into leaky gut and its potential role in irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue symptoms, and some autoimmune conditions.
Furthermore, now that the body cannot fully digest and absorb nutrients, it is at risk of nutrient insufficiency, which may compound what you may already be experiencing.
When Your Food Is Bringing you Stress
How many times has it been that you crave a chocolate bar or a sweet icy latte a couple of hours after lunch? The sugar boost we get is what keeps us wanting more. Immediately after the blood sugar peak comes the dip; this is when we start to feel tired, brain fog, and often irritable.
Processed Food & Additives
Not only that most pre-packed, canned/ or bottled foods are high in sugar and salt, but many of them also contain additives that are linked to anxiety in some people, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and some food dyes.
Fast & Fried food
Fast food such as pizza, french fries, and fried chicken are often high in the wrong fats. On top of this, fast foods are often made from semi-ready food products coupled with bottled seasoning and sauces. All these are making these foods challenging to digest and hence all the problems that indigestion brings.
Good Eating Habits
While an improper way of eating may cause fatigue, slow down your reaction time and decision-making, good eating habits can just as easily change how you feel.
Look out for hidden sugar in canned/bottled beverages, fruit juice, condensed milk, pastries, afternoon kopi, and kueh kueh. White bread, for example, is refined carbohydrates. In other words, it is already full of sugar before adding any spread.
Read food labels and ingredients lists to understand what you are eating. If the list is full of names you cannot pronounce, they may not be what your body can process efficiently.
Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fats, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Many studies suggest that promoting mental well-being may be one of the many benefits of Mediterranean diet (or a similar diet pattern).
Lastly, we can’t stress enough how important it is to chew your food until no lumps are left. Studies have also suggested that increased chewing also reduces total calorie intake in the meal as a bonus. Why would you say no?