Food, Alcohol and Fitness

Food, Alcohol and Fitness

By Eileen Rodriguez

Imagine having two brains, one in our head - which controls the central nervous system - and the other in our stomach, both created by the same tissue during fetal development. These two systems are connected to the vagus nerve, which is the tenth cranial nerve that runs down from brain stem to abdomen. The vagus nerve is a primary route gut bacterium uses to transmit and process information to the brain. Everything eaten has the potential to cause a chemical or hormonal imbalance.  

Food choice is essential in maintaining a healthy body. People suffering ailments such as high stress/high anxiety may turn to food high in starch (processed carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates) and sugar, resulting in increased insulin levels. White pasta, white starchy (russet) potatoes and white bread are examples of high starch foods. Eating a lot of simple carbohydrates or food high in bad cholesterol (eg fries and donuts) or refined sugars can offer temporary feelings of euphoria; however, these foods are moving the body away from healthier choices and a healthier lifestyle. Moreover, people with high stress often binge eat. 

Stress makes everything difficult. Having high anxiety or stress makes it harder to resist junk-food cravings, and most junk food cravings are strongly tied to emotional eating. Over a period of time, the brain will link the sense of euphoria to the unhealthy food choice (eating for reward circuit).  So, is the brain wired to make us crave certain foods when we are feeling depressed or highly stressed-out?  This depends on the individual. Not everyone reacts the same way when it comes to stress, anxiety or severe despondence reactions/illnesses. Some will just stop eating altogether. By doing so, the result is a lack of proper nutrients/healthy fats into the body and brain

For the majority and for certain individuals, there is a specific part in our brain that is activated and associated with “reward circuitry”, “feel good” or “comfort foods." Activation of such reward circuit in the brain may cause certain individuals to over indulge in the wrong food choices, causing negative feelings about such poor food/drinking decisions.

Alcohol also has a negative effect. People who suffer from high stress or depression will often turn to alcohol, drinking to “drown their sorrows” after suffering from any major stress. Because alcohol makes people feel sleepy and/or relaxed, it is actually causing more of a negative effect on that person’s body. Eating sugar, processed and fattening food and drinking alcohol impacts individuals and wreaks havoc on the body.

In the long run, people who do decide to exercise and eat healthy have a higher chance of living an overall healthier and happier lifestyle. These people need to worry much less about certain diseases/problems such as diabetes, cancer, addiction, and much more. So, why not eat healthier and exercise to release healthy endorphins from brain to body, instead of abusing it with food and alcohol? The answer is one many would rather ignore. 

Exercise has been proven to be most effective on treating depression and anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, most people with these symptoms have little motivation to go out and walk or run a mile to release those healthy endorphins. 

The effectiveness of exercise and healthy eating habits is crucial to a person’s lifestyle. Whether trying to lose weight, or just feel better about themselves, the most important lifetime objective is to not give up on health and fitness goals. The effectiveness of wellness is in the science of natural medicine, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Keep going, and never give up on fitness.

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