Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nutritional Approaches to Stress

Paleo Diet

The first nutritional approach is the Paleo diet, which consists mainly of animal protein and vegetables, oils and fats, nuts and some types of fruits. This diet eliminates most dairy, soft drinks, fruit juices, legumes, grains, fatty meats, salty foods, starchy vegetables, and sweets. The diet is based on the idea that eliminating grains rids the body of gliadin peptides, which elicit a pro-inflammatory immune response (de Punder & Pruimboom, 2013). These peptides increase intestinal permeability and the high zonulin levels that have been found in celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, intestinal bowel syndrome, cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, and schizophrenia patients (de Punder & Pruimboom). A result of intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome) is a dysfunctional immune system and a chronic inflammatory response. Although this diet may not directly affect psychological stress, it has the potential to decrease the physiological stress caused by the body's inflammatory response. This may be especially salient for individuals intolerant of grain and grain products (Biesiekierski et al., 2011).

In addition, animal protein is a crucial component in the synthesis of dopamine and norephinephrine, as well as providing the body with tryptophan, which is needed in the body's manufacture of serotonin (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). Protein sources such as fish and poultry help the body to be resilient against stress (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). This nutritional approach might be contraindicated for individuals allergic or intolerant of any of the foods advocated on this diet.

Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is another nutritional approach that contributed to weight loss, a decrease in psychological distress, and increased positive eating behaviors in obese women. Biological changes included lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, lowered C-reactive protein, and helped them lose weight.

Hanh & Cheung, L. (2010) believed mindful eating helps individuals eat better and eat less. In addition, they found when mindfulness is implemented in this one aspect of daily living(eating), it begins to affect the rest of the individual's self, and brings the richness of mindfulness into every aspect of life. Mindfulness, in general, is an effective method of coping with stress (Baer, Carmody & Hunsinger, 2012). Kelley (2009) believed successful stress management strategies include getting some exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet. Mindful eating seems a promising component of any successful stress management plan.

The contraindications for mindful eating might be the same as for mindfulness meditation. Caution is advised for individuals with serious psychological affects to practicing mindfulness. As I mentioned in this week's discussion 1, this practice may be contraindicated for individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder, addictions, and individuals with severe depression (Dobkin, Irving, & Amar, 2012).


Baer, R. A., Carmody, J., & Hunsinger, M. (2012). Weekly Change in Mindfulness and Perceived Stress in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 68(7), 755-765. doi:10.1002/jclp.21865

Barrett, J., Haines, M., Doecke, J., & ... Gibson, P. (2011). Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. The American Journal Of Gastroenterology, 106(3), 508-514. doi:10.1038/ajg.2010.487

Dalen, J., Smith, B., Shelley, B., Sloan, A., Leahigh, L., & Begay, D. (2010). Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies In Medicine, 18(6), 260-264. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.008

Dobkin, P. L., Irving, J. A., & Amar, S. (2012). For Whom May Participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program be Contraindicated? (Report). Mindfulness, (1). 44. doi: 10.1007/s12671-011-0079-9

Hanh, T., & Cheung, L. (2010). Savor: Mindful eating, mindful life. San Francisco, CA US: HarperOne/HarperCollins.

Kelley, D. (2009). The effects of exercise and diet on stress. Nutritional Perspectives: Journal of the Council on Nutrition, 32(1), 37–39.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2012). Stress and its impact on nutrient processing and absorption. [Handout].

de Punder, K. & Pruimboom, L. (2013). The dietary intake of wheat and other cereal grains and their role in inflammation. Nutrients, 5, 771-787. doi :10.3390/nu5030771

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