“This epidemic of chronic stress isn’t going away anytime soon?” asked Cassie as she adjusted Annie’s microphone. She had invited Annie to her weekly podcast to discuss healthy ways to manage chronic stress. Both women, now vaccinated, were face to face in the recording studio for the first time in over a year.
Annie nodded, “The pandemic has substantially increased stress levels in every age group and across all racial lines. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it has had a major impact on our lives. The isolation and dread of the unknown triggered many strong emotions and overwhelming stress. The CDC has a list of coping mechanisms, and one of the most important is eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods.”
“What is stress, and what is chronic stress” queried Cassie. “And how do anti-inflammatory foods help?”
“Good questions,” said Annie. “The genesis of stress is a biological response to demanding circumstances. When the body experiences a stressful situation, the nervous system is triggered to respond, and it does by releasing the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol, the stress hormone, restricts non-essential functions in a fight-or-flight situation. It also suppresses the digestive system. Adrenaline increases heart rate elevates blood pressure and surges energy reserves. Chronic stress is when your body is constantly in overdrive, like always being in fifth gear. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can increase the risk for depression, heart attack, high blood pressure, digestive problems, weight gain, memory, and sleep loss. Eating anti-inflammatory foods is one healthy way to reduce cortisol levels, lowering inflammation in the body.”
“So the right food can help ease the biological effects of stress,” mused Carrie. Do you mind sharing a list of anti-inflammatory foods? I’m specifically interested in snacks.”
“I’m a snack girl too,” laughed Annie. “Good anti-inflammatory snacks should include plant foods because they contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower inflammation. Snacks like this Mom’s Grilled Saurkraut Avocado sandwich are delicious and worth the effort to make. Saurkraut is fermented cabbage that contains “good” bacteria that help prevent inflammation in the gut and decrease anxiety. An Anti-Inflammatory Mango Tumeric Smoothie is a great breakfast or snack. It is packed with anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger; both spices contain properties that reduce inflammation in the body. Mango is an excellent anti-inflammatory vitamin A and C source, with immune-boosting properties. And the chia seeds in this recipe contain antioxidants that fight cell damage and aging. Research shows a yummy Strawberry Avocado Leafy Spinach Salad is vitamin K-rich, reducing inflammation. Top your spinach salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, and you have a superb anti-inflammatory dish.”
“Annie, the information you’re sharing is having a sublimely calming effect on me, and yet I am also getting hungry. Is there such thing as healthy anti-inflammatory sweet snacks because I like to close out a meal with dessert?” said Cassie with an amused tone
Annie nodded happily, “indeed, there is such a thing. Sweet ripe strawberries are best for a Berry Freezer Pops recipe with almonds that lower cholesterol levels and help reduce inflammation of blood vessels. Another is Banana Cherry Muffins. Vitamin C in cherries fights inflammation by reducing free radicals in the body. Bananas have antioxidant compounds that help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health.
Before we close out this podcast, we should mention anti-inflammatory snacks are also defined by what they don’t include, such as refined sugar, processed grains, poor quality ingredients, and unhealthy vegetable oils.
In summary, eat whole, unprocessed foods that contain antioxidants and healthy fats to help reduce inflammation. Those include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich veggies, fruits, nuts, some whole grains, and healthy (non-tropical) oils.”
“That was another great podcast,” said Cassie. “Do you have time for lunch?”
Annie reached for her backpack, “I sure do and brought plenty to share. How about a picnic outside?”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.