This article is shared with permission from our friends at drstevenlin.com.
Stress may seem like the bane of your existence but what if you were told you weren’t getting enough and it’s bad for your health? We’re constantly trying to avoid stress as much as possible, but there may be a kind of stress noticeably absent from of our lives that could be preventing your body from thriving like it should.
The idea centers on how our bodies are designed for survival. If you’re not getting enough stress from both exercise and the foods you eat then you may be programming yourself for unwanted weight gain or disease.
Survival of the Fittest: How Evolution Designs Us for Stress
Your genes are the result of billions of years of struggling against the elements purely to survive. Biological ecosystems provide a constant level of challenge that organisms need to learn to adapt to, or die. Due to this, survivors have an inner marking of ‘stress’ that they overcame to be here today and carry in their cells and genes.
Ori Hofmekler, author of The Warrior Diet writes how this stress can actually be transmitted between species and actually needs to be a part of our diet and lifestyle in order for our body to be at best health. That means that animals that live through stress, like survival moments that require heavy, deep exercise are designed to metabolically thrive.
How Organisms Use Stress for Health
Stress activated foods (SAFs) refer to the compounds that a plant or animal produces due to exposure to stressful environment. Plants are particularly hardened with this stress biology due to the simple fact that they are unable to run away from danger. In order to survive they must be exposed to extreme weather and predators.
SAFs are the mechanism that environments pass on information of survival to make sure that the fittest survive. For this reason, when consumed in our diet, SAF nutrients are thought to increase our resistance to stress and disease. It’s your body using the principles of epigenetics to receive messages like, ‘ok this plant survived by doing this, I’m going to use this information for my own survival.’
How Lack of Stress Causes Modern Disease
The idea of stress for health means that an organism needs to struggle to survive. Modern stress is far different to the healthy stress that keeps our body as a well-oiled machine for fighting disease and surviving. Today we are exposed to chronic forms of stress that release hormones that ultimately harm our health. Similarly our lives are lacking exposure to the HEALTHY kinds of stress with physical inactivity but also a lack of food containing SAFs.
Plants that are farmed, fertilised and sprayed with pesticides and live in an environment without having to fight elements. Animals and fish are grown in captivity and fed with unnatural food such as grain fed cattle and farmed salmon will also lack any exposure to extreme survival conditions. As a result, fat bulbous fruit or flabby, antibiotic pumped animals don’t provide the same messaging systems that we are designed to take from our environment. Consuming these foods in our diet may contribute to risk of chronic diseases and unhealthy weight gain that are so prevalent today.
Can You Eat More Stress-Activated Foods?
SAF are indeed a more natural type of food source. Examples of SAF plants from die-hard species including weeds and herbs such as:
Animal SAFs from lean, wildly raised sources are:
Pasture raised grass-fed meat
Pasture raised dairy, milk and cheese
Pasture raised eggs
Adding the Right Stress to Your Life: Exercise and Fasting
According to Hofmekler, as well as eating SAF’s from wild natural food sources, it’s important for you to implement stress on your body. Intermittent fasting is recommended where you allow your body to struggle for nutrients. He states that humans are designed to eat little in the day and have a nocturnal meal. This means smaller breakfast and lunch times.
Additionally, intense, hard exercise that depletes glycogen stores from your body combined with fasting is thought to put your body into a state of survival where you thrive in thinking that it’s a life or death situation.