The Stress Series: Stress One –

Nutritional stress

Before reading the posts I write about this stress this week I want you to take a moment to change the way you think about yourself.  Instead of thinking about yourself as a man or a woman, a husband or a wife, a teacher, a friend, a sister or a grandparent I want you to remember that underneath all of that you are actually an animal.  And as an animal there are many aspects of our modern lives that we as humans are exposed to that interfere and mess with our natural way of functioning and processing the stimuli we are exposed to.

So thinking in that animal frame, let us now think about nutrition (notice nutrition as opposed to diet).  Think about most of the food we consume and if you’re not sure where to start with that, think about what might be in your staffroom or what you had for lunch today.  You won’t be looking far to realise that the majority of it is highly processed and to an extent that includes foods we might usually think are ‘fresh’ (including fruits, vegetables and meat).  If you’re not sure how on earth these ‘fresh’ food might be processed just ponder for a moment how pesticides and hormones might affect the chemical make-up of the food we consume and ingest.

We know that digestion is a complex chemical process that involves the compounds in our food being broken down and either converted and used by the body as energy or stored as fat.  We know many foods are beneficial to our wellbeing as they are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants (the goodies that ‘eat’ the baddies known as free-radicals which are the waste produced from the chemical processes that occur when we’re stressed) and good fats.  These ‘clean’ foods are easy for our animal systems to digest and break down, process and eliminate from our systems.

Foods that are highly processed and high in sugar, bad fat, chemicals like additives additives and preservatives can be toxic to our systems.  Although they can usually be broken down and eliminated from our bodies, they are foreign to our systems and require extra energy and chemical processing to remove.  The higher our consumption of these foods, the harder our bodies have to work and the more stress they are under in order to maintain an internal state of equilibrium.

How can I reduce nutritional stress?

There’s a number of relatively simple things one can do to reduce the amount of nutritional stress they place on their body.  The most obvious is to eat less food that is highly processed and to minimise the consumption of bad fats, added chemicals and preservatives, salt and sugar altogether.

One of the best things you can do to reduce your nutritional stress is to buy free-range, organic and/or bio-dynamic food.  People often complain that this food is more expensive than regular food and there is no denying it often is.  The reason for this is because it requires so much more care than regular food (no pesticides around to stop it from being eaten by little critters) and because it is considered exclusive (because its expensive its not so readily available).  But this isn’t always so, and cases in which the price of free range, organic, biodynamic or low spray produce is comparable (if not cheaper) than regular produce include:

–      going to Farmers Markets.  In Adelaide the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Markets (on Sundays from 9-1 on Leader St) and the Willunga Farmers Markets (Saturdays, same time) are excellent.  For those not in Adelaide, Farmers Markets are everywhere, just use the net to find your closest.

–  In supermarkets.  Next time you’re getting your milk compare the prices between regular and organic milk.  Not with the homebrand $1 a litre special but with your regular brand.  Notice the difference.  Is it huge?  Is it worth the extra few cents (if it happens to be dearer) to pay for something that’s 100% milk and not from animals that are pumped full of hormone?  Organic meat is also becoming increasingly popular in supermarkets and I notice the price of it is often slashed when it is still many days before use by.

In regards to buying free-range, organic or biodynamic food remember the standard economic principle of the greater the demand of an item, the lower its price will be.  The more people who buy unprocessed food will result in it becoming more readily available and cheaper.  And if the difference in price still bothers you, I wonder does it still seems such a big deal when you consider it an investment towards your health and wellbeing?  After watching 4 Corners last night, I wonder how many parents of children on the autistic spectrum would have forked out that money to buy bread without that preservative E280 if they had known the potential side effects some research is saying it has.

I hope this has provided you with some food for thought.  Tomorrow I will be posting about chemical stress which in a way is linked to nutritional stress but can occur in more ways than simply digestion.

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