Friday, September 9, 2011

The Which-a-ma-call-it? Oh, yeah, Food Fact Friday

OMG! In class yesterday, I couldn't remember the structure of the cell membrane. 

Yes this is scary - I have a MAT in BIOLOGY! 

What is wrong with me? I can't focus and I am on the edge of my seat  - I feel like I can run a marathon! "Feel" is the key word there!

With the anniversary of September 11th upon us, all of us here, are on edge (understatement)! While I spaced out today, my mind drifted to thoughts of cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal gland (a tiny gland that sits on top of the kidneys). Cortisol is released in times of stress - this can be physical (like overtraining), emotional or general lifestyle stress. In some circles, it goes by the name: "The Death Hormone". Yeay!

For endurance athletes, cortisol can be a good thing because it helps to increase blood sugar which our cells use to make the energy we need to run. So, normal amounts of cortisol are good, but too much cortisol stresses out our immune system, messes with our ability to focus (a sad, but true fact for many inner city school children), our sleep cycles, our performance and even our (eh-hem) libido!

So, what's a person to do?

1) Try to avoid stress. Hahahahahahaha!

Dude-Man Relaxing after a Day of Motorcross
2) Drink.
The Bull Frog Brewery
No, I am not suggesting a brewski here. 

You need to hydrate yourself with water or decaffeinated non-alcoholic beverages. Ginseng is an adaptogen which can help reduce cortisol levels. Ginseng tea sounds really good right now!

3) Avoid refined carbohydrates.

Dude-Man Eating Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago
Sorry, I am not suggesting eating deep dish pizza to help reduce high cortisol levels, either. In fact, you should avoid refined or processed carbohydrates. See, the refined and processed carbs are rapidly digested, creating a spike in insulin levels, which stresses our digestive system and adds to increased cortisol levels. You want to stick to whole grains, veggies and fruits. Eating whole foods allows for a slower, more natural digestion, which does not add to our stress levels.

Also, you know how they always say breakfast is the most important food of the day? Well here is one more reason why that is true - cortisol levels are highest in the morning. So those refined carbs, like a morning bun, with coffee - not a good idea... but a bowl of some whole grain cereal or steel cut oatmeal - mmm, mmm, good!

4) Exercise for at least 30-60 minutes per day.
Me Running in the NJ Sandy Hook Half Marathon

So, let's see, avoid stress, mmm sometimes this is not possible. Stay hydrated - okay, this is an easy one, going for some ginseng tea. Avoid refined carbs - this is hard to do when your stressed because you want comfort foods like chocolate, cookies, cake and ice cream - but maybe now that you know why you should avoid refined carbs, it can empower you to - at the very least - limit how much you consume. Lastly, exercise .... It is definitely my favorite of these four suggestions.

Stay well and 
Train Smart Today!
Post a Comment