A healthy lifestyle; a theme that is receiving more and more attention on all fronts. More exercise, but also the right nutrition are a point of attention for many. Yet a healthy lifestyle is about more than that. Apart from the right nutrition and regular exercise, sufficient rest is essential, or rather, less stress. You can follow a very healthy diet and run ten kilometres every day, but as soon as your body doesn’t get enough rest, both mentally and physically, it’s a matter of mopping up with the tap open.
When you experience stress, your body reacts in the same way as when your life is threatened. All your systems are put on hold. So is your digestion, because – that’s how your body thinks – digesting your lunch can best wait until you are out of danger again. A physical protection, which we owe to the primal feeling of our ancestors through which they could recognize danger. Despite the fact that in 2019 we no longer live as hunters and gatherers, the meaning of that primal feeling has changed little. That danger still lurks in a small corner. Nowadays it’s not a wild animal that causes danger, but your job and the work pressure that goes with it. In short, stress is a natural reaction that you have to take seriously. If you don’t, you will have to defend yourself against the danger with all your power.
What are the consequences of stress?
It is clear that stress contributes to anything but a healthier lifestyle. Stress can cause complaints such as headaches, swollen stomachs, high blood pressure and sleeping problems. Not to mention anxiety disorders resulting in heart palpitations and elevated blood sugar levels. So, as I just wrote, your body interprets stress as a life-threatening situation. Your adrenaline rushes up, your heart rhythm goes up, and your body shuts down all your systems, including your digestion. I’d like to pick up on that last point in particular.
Stress stops your digestion
A well-functioning digestion is important to be able to absorb all essential substances for a healthy body from your diet. If this does not happen, you produce less digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, which makes it harder to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates as well as absorbing vitamins and minerals. In other words, your body is deficient in important nutrients on all fronts. Which eventually leads to even more complaints.
Stress is also visible in your mouth!
In practice, I see people with inflamed gums passing by every day. My first question is: do you experience stress? In 90% of the cases this is so! Stress undermines the immune system; because the body produces the stress hormone cortisol there is an increased inflammatory reaction.
Stress also affects the mouth in other ways. People with a busy life obviously spend less time and attention to their oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day and stammering often goes a long way! In addition, in stressful times you are more inclined to reach for unhealthy food or snacking. More eating times and increased sugar consumption are major risk factors for the development of cavities. Add poor oral hygiene and you understand that stress doesn’t contribute to a healthy mouth.
Denise, blue®m mouth coach
Solving stress? Help your body
Your body sets its own priorities and that’s survival in this case. If it is distracted by stress your body digests information and danger instead of your food. This is anything but healthy. But what can be done about it? Changing jobs overnight, reducing your workload or eliminating other stressors is often not that easy. It usually takes a little more time. But in the meantime there are enough things you can do straight away to help your digestion.
- First of all, ask yourself where it goes wrong. What causes you to have so much stress? Take your feelings seriously and try to get to the core of the problem so you can work on it. Which can give you a little more peace and quiet. Then you are on the right track.
- In the meantime, get enough rest, especially when you are eating. Make sure you really take the time to eat. Not at your desk, in front of the television or in between, but in a quiet place. Put down your fork or spoon after every bite and you will automatically eat more peacefully. Eat with attention: chew at least 15 times per bite, analyse what you taste, feel how you swallow your bite. Make it a small mindfulness moment. You will notice that your body immediately feels calmer.
- Go for the right food. A healthy digestion starts with food that contains enough good bacteria and fibre for good bowel functioning and enough nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc). You do this by eating as much natural food as possible, food that has not been processed in a factory. Especially vegetables, herbs and fruit contain plenty of fibre to keep your bowels active.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Too much caffeine can lead to feelings of stress. If you already experience stress, it may be wise to drink less caffeine. Alcohol changes how your body deals with stress. It can reduce the hormone cortisol and prolong the feeling of stress. People who smoke find smoking relaxing. Just a moment of rest, but in reality smoking increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which makes you feel more stressed.
- Last but not least: Move! Go and do a work out. Sufficient exercise every day reduces stress. So if you are stressed, try to go to the gym, go cycling, walking, running, golfing, swimming and so on… Good for body and mind!
Tip from the mouth coach:
Sufficient vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy mouth. When you can’t absorb your nutrients properly due to chronic stress, there is a chance that you will become deficient. The mouth is a mirror of health, so you will be able to recognize vitamin deficits in the mouth. A deficiency of vitamin C, for example, leads to bleeding gums and a calcium deficiency can lead to cavities. That’s why you should supplement your diet with a food supplement. blue®m teeth & bone formula contains all the nutrients you need for a healthy mouth. It is a specially developed formula that is suitable for daily use as well as for support before, during and after surgical or dental procedures.
Mirte Gratama is guest blogger for blue®m. Her passion is health and she believes that a healthy lifestyle is feasible for everyone. She sees it as her mission to get people moving with practical and feasible tips. Mirte is author of The Health Guide; an accessible and well-organized booklet with workouts, recipes and personal articles and tips about a healthy lifestyle.