With hectic work schedules, kids who have regular sporting events and keeping track of one’s health, there are a lot of factors that can cause stress. Unfortunately being stressed out can lead to heart disease and other health conditions if we’re not careful. There are many ways to cope with stress, from yoga to switching up a diet. In particular, the Body Reboot book discusses how a low carb diet, or more specifically the keto diet, can ease stress and help people cope with daily stressors. Want to learn more? Below are some studies and sources that discuss how a ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, low carb diet, can help you deal with stress better.
Everyday Health makes remarks about how much a diet plays a part in how you feel, and how if you eat a nutrient-rich food you’re bound to feel better. A well-balanced diet such as the keto diet can help you handle life’s hurdles and feel healthier as well.
An article published in August 2015 in the journal Stress suggested that the amount and quality of nutrients you take in over time can impact the body’s neural circuits that control emotion, motivation, and mood. Other research, such as a study published in October 2017 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Behavioral Medicine, has pointed to gut microbiota — microorganisms in the intestine comprised of good and bad bacteria — as an essential link to the relationship between what you eat and drink, and how you feel.
“Microbiome health, or gut health, affects your mood, emotions, and psychological health,” says Alice Figueroa, RDN, MPH, a nutritionist in New York City and founder of Alice in Foodieland.
Fighting stress with food is a tactic available to everyone, Figueroa says. No expensive supplements or complex methodology is required.
Unhealthy eating patterns can send stress levels skyrocketing and potentially increase your risk of health problems in the future if you don’t address them. According to the June 2016 review in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, a well-balanced and nutritious diet was likely the single most important ingredient for good health.
Everyday Health made mention of a study by Stress in 2015. The study is called Stress exposure, food intake and emotional state and the researchers found that the type of food you eat has everything to do with how you act and feel.
This manuscript summarizes the proceedings of the symposium entitled, “Stress, Palatable Food and Reward”, that was chaired by Drs. Linda Rinaman and Yvonne Ulrich-Lai at the 2014 Neurobiology of Stress Workshop held in Cincinnati, OH. This symposium comprised research presentations by four neuroscientists whose work focuses on the biological bases for complex interactions among stress, food intake and emotion. First, Dr. Ulrich-Lai describes her rodent research exploring mechanisms by which the rewarding properties of sweet palatable foods confer stress relief. Second, Dr. Stephanie Fulton discusses her work in which excessive, long-term intake of dietary lipids, as well as their subsequent withdrawal, promotes stress-related outcomes in mice. Third, Dr. Mark Wilson describes his group’s research examining the effects of social hierarchy-related stress on food intake and diet choice in group-housed female rhesus macaques, and compared the data from monkeys to results obtained in analogous work using rodents. Lastly, Dr. Gorica Petrovich discusses her research program that is aimed at defining cortical–amygdalar–hypothalamic circuitry responsible for curbing food intake during emotional threat (i.e., fear anticipation) in rats. Their collective results reveal the complexity of physiological and behavioral interactions that link stress, food intake and emotional state, and suggest new avenues of research to probe the impact of genetic, metabolic, social, experiential, and environmental factors.
This research symposium closed with an extended group discussion between the contributing authors and workshop participants that was moderated by Dr. Rinaman. This lively discussion focused in large part on highlighting future research priorities for the field. More specifically, the group broached several intriguing questions that are ripe for experimental analysis. A few of these questions are posed below.
How, when, and by what central neural mechanism(s) does palatable food intake transition from promoting stress relief to enhancing stress responsiveness? In other words, how does the apparently adaptive or beneficial effect of consuming rewarding foods become maladaptive and deleterious with regards to stress responsiveness? Important considerations include the type and duration of the stressor, the macronutrient quality of the palatable diet, and subject sex.
What is the role or importance of timing (with regards to stress exposure) and context (e.g., safe/familiar environment vs. novel/challenging environment) in mechanisms that underlie stress-induced overeating vs. stress-induced anorexia?
What is the role of sex hormones in mechanisms that underlie stress-induced overeating vs. stress-induced anorexia? Is female vulnerability to stress-related overeating and stress-related anorexia mediated by a common mechanism?
Author Matt Nicholls on Medium discusses how the keto diet, in particular, has helped ease his depression. He says that because ketones reduce inflammation that it can help conditions like anxiety and depression.
Since being on the diet my social anxiety seems to be waning. At first, I thought this might be a placebo effect because I’d heard that ketogenic diets can have a positive effect on anxiety and depression.
Having said that, I started to notice these changes in the first week of the diet and they have persisted in the two weeks that followed. It would have to be one hell of a placebo for it to last this long.
The most recent changes in my anxiety include:
- Having full-on conversations with cashiers that exceed beyond “hi”, “thanks”, and “bye” when I’m shopping
- Being out in public for more than a few hours without caring who is walking past me or looking at me
- Slouching less as I walk through the streets and actually looking people in the eye as I talk to them
- Not lowering my voice to a faint murmur when there are people nearby, making it easier for me to speak to people over the phone on public transport
These were all things I struggled with before and although I still have problems I need to work on, it’s interesting to think that many of the issues I related to my childhood isolation could actually be linked to — or at least exacerbated by — my diet.
I decided to look into the ketogenic diet more to find out exactly what the science was behind me regaining some of my mental stability.
A 2008 study in the journal Epilepsia showed that a ketogenic diet can reduce inflammation in the brain due to both carb restriction and an increase in ketones.
Glutamate, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain, and GABA, one that reduces brain stimulation, must be balanced in order for the brain to function properly.
Wondering what type of food you eat while on the keto diet that helps reduce stress? Everyday Health says that eating avocados can help you feel better because it has omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce stress.
Avocados are not only delicious mashed into guacamole or sliced and added to a salad — they also offer omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Meyerowitz emphasizes the importance of getting the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet for overall health — in addition to the benefit of helping reduce stress — which the federal government’s dietary guidelines define as 1.6 g of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid, a form of omega-3 fats) for adult men and 1.1 g of ALA for adult women.
The possible superpower of avocados goes beyond their omega-3 fatty acids. They also consist of phytochemicals, fiber, and essential nutrients, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey, which was published in January 2013 in the Nutrition Journal, suggested that avocados have been linked to better diet quality and nutrient intake as well as a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions that include high blood pressure and obesity. It's important to note, however, that the survey only suggested an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between eating avocados and these improved health markers.
Nutrita brings up a valid point that even though you are the keto diet, you still need to focus on making the right decisions. Make healthy decisions and allow the diet to help you have a better relationship with food. Making positive decisions while being on an effective keto diet can make a considerable difference both mentally and physically.
As mentioned before, don’t try to severely and intentionally restrict calories when following a ketogenic for fat loss. It just adds stress and is a virtual guarantee way to fail. It is hard to overeat when being in ketosis and when you are overweight, you will likely automatically lose fat. Don’t think you have to eat this or that much because you did or didn’t do something at the gym. If you ‘drink to thirst’ you should also ‘eat till full’.
Get enough sleep as sleep deprivation is an incredibly powerful stressor. I don’t just mean not sleeping for 2 days straight, I mean even losing 1-2 hours of sleep multiple times a week. Because sleep quality is highest before midnight, try going to bed early.
Exercise regularly. Even though exercise leads to an acute release of stress hormones, it reduces stress long-term. An short afternoon HIT session is a great way to get the benefit from stress hormones momentarily and the long-term benefit of stress reduction. It also improves sleep apnea.
Have a healthy control over your time as much as possible. In other words, respect the fact that you’re an incredibly social animal and you need to meet those needs (yes, even you introverts). It does not matter how much you enjoy or do or don’t enjoy your work; it is important to take regular brakes and find things that make you want to get up in the morning. Try to spend this time with quality people, or take some time for yourself if that’s what you need.
Everyone deals with stress, but the keto diet can help you feel better and keep your stress down. Learn more about the keto diet in the Body Reboot book and how else it can benefit you both physically and mentally. To receive a free book all you have to do is help us cover shipping. Visit this page to get your free copy today!
Sources: Everday Health, NCBI: Stress exposure, food intake, and emotional state. Stress. 2015, Nutrita, Medium
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