Heal the Common Manifestations of Stress
COMBAT MASKNE, BRAIN FOG, ODD-HOUR CRAVINGS, AND MORE WITH NUTRITION
Emotions create chemical reactions in the physical form; joy activates serotonin and dopamine, for example, while a passionate love affair releases oxytocin. The ever-present feelings of stress produce hormones too—cortisol and adrenaline among them—and science continues to reveal the physical impact of high-octane stress. The advice we give ourselves? Feel your feelings in full, but keep returning to practices that keep you grounded. That means a foundation of healing, satiating, pleasure-inducing nourishment—every single day.
As the current climate brought on a unique set of stressors, food became an even more valued ally, with the power to soothe inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and even banish skin congestion from masks. Below, find a few of the very common physical manifestations from this extraordinary year, and the nutrition at the ready to support you.
BRAIN FOG |
If focus has seemed elusive these days, lean on a few ingredients and plant-based allies to help salvage some clarity for the workday. Consider adding L-theanine to your repertoire, which when combined with coffee or green tea, has a masterful ability to take the high energy care of caffeine, and channel it into hyperfocus. This amino acid is also anxiolytic, meaning it helps to turn on alpha brain waves. These brain waves, activated during deep meditation, foster alertness and induce a sense of presence. Alongside this functional ingredient, flood your diet with antioxidants. Antioxidants lower inflammation by ridding the body of free radicals, a culprit for damaging DNA and cellular replication. These healthful compounds, found in abundance in fresh fruits and plants, bring clarity to the body, diminish acidity, and serve as key “youth-preservers”.
As the current climate brought on a unique set of stressors, food became an even more valued ally
SKIN CONGESTION |
In Traditional Chinese medicine, the skin is directly related to the lungs, and as such needs to breathe. Mask-wearing might have you dealing with newfound spots or congestion, as you cover up the face’s lower half. Not to worry; follow safety guidelines but also prioritize an inside-out approach to nip maskne in the bud, by strengthening your microbiome, detox organs, and the epidermis layer. Begin with a high-quality probiotic with a number of diverse strains to fight pathogens; seek out Lactobacillus acidophilus specifically, which is a popular antidote to acne. Along with pumping symbiotic bacteria in your gut, focus on hydration on the cellular level. Proper hydration by eating living, water-rich foods will allow your kidneys and liver to dispel toxins efficiently, ridding the body of inflammatory waste that exacerbates redness and blemishes. Double down on that hydration with phytoceramides, which strengthen the cellular barrier that holds water and preserves your own collagen stores. Translation— your skin maintains buoyancy, glow, and clarity. Then, in the evenings, give your complexion respite and create an aromatic facial steam with herbal tea.
DIGESTIVE UPSET/BLOAT |
Dealing with stomach knots, bloat, butterflies, or general upset after meals? Before you sit down to eat, integrate digestive enzymes into your regimen. Digestive enzymes help to rebuild stomach acid in the body as you prepare to eat, something that is suppressed when stress enters the system. Without proper gastric acid, nutrient absorption isn’t optimized, and food can sit in the GI tract longer than necessary, causing bloating and discomfort. Zinc is also a powerful ally in stimulating hydrochloric acid in the body. Other supportive measures include adding chlorophyll to your water at the end of each day, which is a powerful source of magnesium. Magnesium, among the thousands of enzymatic reactions it’s responsible for, is known for its ability to calm the digestive tract. This helps for smooth bowel movements, bloat reduction, and an increase in blood sugar sensitivity which has a cascading effect on hormones and sleep—both of which can affect your tummy troubles.
WINTER BLUES |
As sunshine hours wane and you miss the palpable warmth of solar healing, there are a few nutritive solutions to hold you over until spring. First, make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, critical to the immune response, nervous system, and muscle formation. Seek out a plant-based, bioavailable source of D3 in supplement form, while also stocking up on whole food sources like citrus, sea vegetables, and mushrooms. In order to activate vitamin D, prioritize chelated magnesium, as the enzymes that convert vitamin D into its active form, calcitriol, require proper amounts of the mineral. Magnesium is also essential in producing serotonin and melatonin, a sleep hormone that builds immune cells. Since sunshine directly affects your mood, during the winter solstice, flood the body with healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These are both known as potent brain food. Specifically, long-chain fatty acids (like DHA and EPA) promote signs of elevated mood, aid depression, and boost the master hormone known as the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF controls neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to make new synaptic connections and learn new patterns—critical for healthy brain aging.
TEMPORARY CROWN LOSS |
A small number of people are reporting that months following their Covid-19 experience, are now losing their hair. Many speculate it to be telogen effluvium, a temporary issue triggered by a stressful event that halts the hair follicle’s growth phase. While patience is necessary as you wait for the hair to return to its typical growth pattern, there is herbal support. Horsetail, a key component in the Metabolism Super Powder works as a diuretic and debloater, but is also rich in silica. Silica is a mineral that restores connective tissues, strengthens hair, and increases blood circulation to support the follicles. Another source of silica rests in nettles, an herb you can brew in a daily infusion that will support hair, skin, and nails. The adaptogen, ashwagandha, is also a popular hair supplement ingredient as it regulates the HPA axis and activates GABA levels, which is known to soothe anxiety. In the kitchen, stock up on sulfurous vegetables like cruciferous plants, hemp seeds, alliums (think: garlic and onions), and maca root. Sulfur is a building block of keratin and collagen, both necessary for repairing hair growth structures.
On the energetic front, focus on rebuilding the pranic body to restore life back to the adrenals.
ALCOHOL AFTERMATH |
A glass of wine with dinner or a homemade cocktail right as 5PM hits seems to be a trending daily tradition, as the switch from coffee to martinis marks the hours are indeed passing. While it’s critical to create personal boundaries with alcohol consumption, it’s also helpful to replenish your systems if you choose to drink, since inarguably alcohol’s toxins can leave your body off-kilter. Before and after you imbibe, take a B-complex supplement as these vitamins aid your liver and kidneys in metabolizing waste. Your detox organs—and every cell of the body, for that matter—will then require a different kind of cocktail once you’ve downed the first: this time, a strategic mix of ionic minerals. These minerals charge the body, making it “electric” and energized—something that can feel sorely lacking after a night of libations. One more piece of advice; add a heavy-handed sprinkling of fresh cilantro to your meals the next day. Cilantro contains the compound, linalool, that actively cleans the liver.
ADRENAL FATIGUE |
The term “burnout” is a hot button phrase in 2020, and it can often translate to adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands, sitting atop the kidneys, are responsible for the fight-or-flight response, releasing adrenaline, spiking blood sugar, and elevating heart rate to trigger action. The problem with this constant state of stress is that these glands become exhausted, essentially malfunctioning and turn on at the wrong times—think, wired in the middle of the night, and impossibly tired in the afternoon (cue, the sugar cravings). There are a lot of methods to rehabilitate these glands, but food is a great place to start. In the morning, think about weaning off the rush of caffeine—which can exacerbate adrenal glands—and opt for a metabolism-revving “London Fog” or an adaptogenic herbal tea with medicinal mushrooms and sexually-activating ingredients like schisandra and eleuthero. To take it one step further and fully recalibrate, consider a week-long whole food detox that eliminates all common inflammation triggers, squashes unwanted food cravings, and supplements with NAC and cordyceps to ease the body out of constant fatigue and toxicity. On the energetic front, focus on rebuilding the pranic body to restore life back to the adrenals. Prana, meaning breath, is the subtle life-force energy in us all, thought to reside in the blood and sexual fluids. You can strengthen this source of power through pranayama— Sky Ting offers some of our favorite online guided classes.
MORE HEALING PRACTICES AND RESOURCES
photo from @alexisbadiyi