The Brain/Body Connection: Stress

How are your New Year health resolutions going?  Are you staying focused?  A healthy body requires a healthy brain.  Chronic stress can interfere with both.

Chronic stress constricts blood flow to the brain, which can lower brain function.  A Canadian study showed that stress hormones decreased activity in the brain that controls cognitive function and emotional balance.  This makes it harder to stay focused and make healthy decisions.

Stress increases cortisol levels.  One study showed that older adults with chronically high levels of cortisol performed worse on memory tests than those with low to moderate cortisol levels.

Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are linked to an increase in appetite and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.

Stress can interfere with sleep, and a lack of sleep (less than seven hours per night) can trigger an increase in cortisol and interfere with hormones that control appetite.

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, digestive disorders, and weaken the immune system.

Stress can make you feel tired and less inclined to exercise.  A lack of exercise can decrease blood flow to the brain.  On the flip side, too much exercise can promote physical stress.

Some ideas for managing chronic stress:

  1.  Prayer has been shown to calm stress and improve brain function.  Studies point out that prayer reduces depression and anxiety, improves focus, and protects the brain from cognitive decline due to aging.  Prayer seems to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, the area involved in planning, making decisions, and self-control.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”  Isaiah 26:3.  “Give all your worries to God, for He cares about you.”  1 Peter 5:7
  2. Uplifting music can calm the mind and body.
  3. Lavender has been researched and shown to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.  Add it to a bath or diffuser.  I like to buy small glass bottles with roller tops to make lavender oil to rub onto wrists or temples to help calm stress.  It may even help to lower blood pressure.
  4. Laughter really is the best medicine!  “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”  Proverbs 17:22.  Laughter releases feel-good hormones and helps reduce dangerous stress hormones.
  5. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps increase serotonin and/or dopamine, which act as natural anti-depressants.  L-theanine can also be found in supplement form but should not be taken by pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  6. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts produce stress!  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8.
  7. Eat foods high in B-vitamins to help with mood and stress.  They also help metabolize fats, which are needed for brain health.  Whole grains, nuts, seeds, brown rice, and nutritional yeast are some good sources of B-vitamins.  A healthy balance of good intestinal bacteria helps the body make B-vitamins.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.



Aluminum additives in food and personal care products can accumulate in the body, including the bones!

Aluminum toxicity accumulates over time and can be difficult for the body to eliminate.  Beware of your exposure from various sources!

Aluminum hydroxide is used in many antacid medications.

Aluminum phosphate and sodium aluminum sulfate are used as stabilizers in many processed foods.

Aluminum salts are found in many antiperspirants (aluminum chlorhydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide, aluminum zirconium) and can be absorbed through the skin.

In one study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, researchers found that women with breast cancer had a higher accumulation of aluminum in their breast tissue.  Aluminum salts can also mimic estrogen, which has been shown to increase the risk for breast cancer.

There is growing evidence that chronic aluminum exposure can be a factor in many neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

A study from Keele University in the UK shows high levels of aluminum in the brain of an individual exposed to aluminum at work, who later died from Alzheimer’s disease.   In 2004 high levels of aluminum were found in the tissues of a British woman who died from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Cooking with aluminum foil and/or aluminum cookware increases absorption of aluminum into food and beverages.  This includes making coffee in an aluminum espresso maker.

Aluminum can be inhaled through cigarette smoke.

Read labels and avoid ingredients containing forms of aluminum.

Some foods that may contain aluminum:  baking powder, self-rising flour, salt, baby formula, coffee creamers, processed foods

Foods and drinks in aluminum laminated pouches or aluminum cans

Toothpaste containing aluminum oxyhydroxides

Deodorants, antiperspirants, cosmetics, lotions, sunscreens, shampoos, bath salts, and other personal care products

Over-the-counter medications and/or dietary supplements containing aluminum, including the additive magnesium stearate

A healthy digestive tract will help move most of ingested aluminum out of your system before it gets absorbed.  This means that you need to eat in a way that doesn’t leave you reaching for antacids or make you constipated for days.

Eat foods rich in fiber, especially vegetables, and avoid processed carbohydrates that are high in sugar and low in fiber.

To help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, eat some fermented foods like sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar.  Add foods that contain live probiotic cultures like unsweetened yogurt and cottage cheese.  Choose products from grass-fed cows and those not raised with antibiotics or growth hormones.  If you don’t consume dairy products, consider taking a probiotic supplement.

Consume bone broth to help repair the gut and to supply collagen, shown to reduce the loss of bone mass and the likelihood of hip fractures.  There’s a basic recipe on my website.

Eat foods high in sulfur like garlic, onions, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, bok choy, sweet potatoes, nuts, turnips, and watermelon.  Sulfur helps the body to produce the antioxidant glutathione, which is essential for protecting the body from damage caused by chemicals like aluminum.

Drink enough pure water (tap water can also be contaminated with aluminum).

Get enough daily exercise and practice deep breathing to help remove toxins through perspiration and respiration.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult with your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.