Updated: May 19
Stress can impact our ability to focus, process information and think clearly.
Using a functional medicine approach first line of action in managing stress will be blood sugar regulation.
1. When we are under stress with the release of stress hormones and body in fight or flight mode we crave for high carbohydrate rich foods from cakes, biscuits, cooking, white pasta, noodles leading to imbalance in blood sugars. Also lack of sleep raises our stress hormones leading to craving for sugar and caffeine. Eating slow released foods from protein (lentils, beans, tofu, paneer, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken and fibre rich foods from vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, nuts, seeds.
Also prioritising breakfast and having wholesome meal like eggs on toast, hummus sandwich or high protein fibre rich smoothie instead of chocolate shake or energy bar would be beneficial.
2. Optimising digestive function- Exam stress can cause an upset stomach as both gut and brain are interconnected. Helping to support balance in the gut microbiome for a healthy gut brain axis and to relieve anxiety is important. Including different color of fruit and veggies for good gut bacteria which helps with digestion, absorption of the nutrients and immune health. Also including fermented foods from yogurt, fresh idli, dosa batter, pesarattu, kefir, ganji, kanji would be beneficial.
3. Key nutrients to include for brain health are magnesium, omega 3 fats. Magnesium is a key mineral in supporting and calming nervous system. Foods rich in magnesium are green veggies, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate. Omega 3 are important for neurological and brain health. This can be taken from oily fishes, nuts, seeds.
4. Exercise- Exercising in a non-stressful way from yoga, walk would be beneficial. Breath and thoughts/emotions are intimately connected. Good, bad, overwhelming thoughts invoke emotions which leads to changes in breath pattern so we can use our breath as a tool to control emotions/thoughts. Doing pranayama for 20 minutes every day can show significant improvement in managing stress.
5. Water- It is very important for our brain and our ability to learn. Dehydration can cause cortisol levels to increase causing more stress. Humans need 2.5 liters of water every day. You can have through lemon water, herbal teas, coconut water, soups, smoothies.
Breakfast high protein smoothie
Banana- 1 small
Oats- 1 tbsp
Satu flour-1 tbsp
Plain yogurt- 3 tbsp
Spinach - handful
Water -50 ml
Flaxseeds- 1 tsp