Healthy Living & Prevention in El Paso


Using the Mediterranean diet to reduce stress

Using the Mediterranean diet to reduce stress

25 Mar 2023 by Ted Escobedo   1 min read

New animal research in Neurobiology of Stress found that following a Mediterranean diet may help tone down stress and promote healthy aging. Stress can manifest itself in many forms and can be hard to measure. For this study, they focused on the nervous system and the hormone cortisol. There are two categories of nervous systems in our bodies: parasympathetic and sympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the "fight or flight" response we experience from feelings of stress or danger. Cortisol is one of the hormones that helps our bodies access the resources we need during a "fight or flight" response and is our body's main stress hormone. However, if stress is persistent and cortisol stays at high levels for extended periods of time, it can damage our tissues.
On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for keeping us in a calmer state where lower levels of cortisol were present. Researchers found that long-term consumption of a Mediterranean diet reduced cortisol levels and promoted the use of the parasympathetic nervous system, so animals recovered from stress more quickly. Though this study was conducted in animals, it suggests that following a Mediterranean diet could be a cost-effective way to reduce the psychological effects of stress in humans too.

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